We get asked quite frequently how to properly store wine. Our friends over at Elite Wine Refrigeration wrote a great and detailed article for us to share with you.
When the majority of people buy wine, it is usually to be consumed fairly soon after. However, if you are planning to store wine for a prolonged period of time, or start a collection, the way in which this wine will be stored is something that should be considered. In order for the wine to develop properly, your wine should have proper storage available straight away, as a stable and consistent environment is vital.
We have collaborated with Elite Wine Refrigeration to advise to you on storage solutions. They have identified five key things to consider when planning how to store your wine, in order to ensure your wines are stored in the best possible conditions.
All wine needs to be stored at a temperature of 12°C whether it be white, red, rosé or sparkling. This is required as it is the correct temperature for the reactions to occur naturally inside the bottle and at a rate that isn’t too fast nor too slow. A typical red serving temperature is anything between 16-20°C, but this is too warm for you to store wine. The warmer temperature will increase the rate of reaction and cause the wine to age too fast. If you were to store your wine in cooler conditions, such as the typical white serving temperature of 6-8°C this would inhibit the aging process of your wine.
In addition to getting the temperature just right, it should be maintained consistently. In order for the aging process to begin, there should be a period of stability for the wine. Wine cannot develop in an on-and-off nature, so the conditions need to stay consistent. It is difficult to achieve this as many different things can cause a fluctuation in temperature such as seasonal changes to the weather, and heating changes to a household throughout the day.
Humidity is something that can be affected by the temperature; the ideal humidity to keep when storing wine is between 55-80%. If humidity levels rise too high then the air will be too moist, this can lead to mould growth on the bottles and labels. Mould can produce odours which can linger and affect the quality of the wine.
High humidity can also destroy the labelling on wine bottles, which may lead to more practical issues. If, however, the humidity is too low, and the air becomes too dry, there is a risk that they cork may dry out. If this happens, the cork may no longer fit inside the bottle neck correctly and oxidization may occur, spoiling the wine. However, if your temperature is at the correct reading, your humidity levels should be sufficient also.
The most common way in which odours might occur is if bottles of wine have been opened; because they are no longer air tight, odours can begin to linger. This can affect the value of your wine. Furthermore, if odours seep through the cork then they can actually contaminate the wine inside of the bottle. If open bottles of wine meet high levels of humidity, this provides mould with the perfect conditions to grow and fester, and this can again affect the value and quality of your wine.
Generally, if the temperature and humidity are properly controlled then potential odours won’t be a huge risk to your wine. Wine coolers are a perfect way to control both the temperature and humidity when storing your wine. In addition to this, they feature charcoal filters built in which can eliminate any bad odours that do start to occur.
UV light comes from sunlight and can interfere with the chemical reactions that occur naturally inside the bottle. A good example of this is when human skin is exposed to sunlight, the pigmentation changes – the same thing can happen to wine. If it is left exposed to sunlight, not only will the aging process be interfered with, but the wine may also become discoloured. Wine bottles themselves are not UV treated, so only offer the wine a certain degree of protection. It is tricky to find dark storage space for large amounts of wine, as cellar space is not something readily available to most people. Wine coolers are therefore a very good way to protect from UV rays as even if they have glass doors, this glass will be UV treated.
External vibrations can cause issues in maturing wine as they force the heavier and lighter compounds inside the bottle into different ends of the bottle, restricting the natural ageing process. The wine may begin to split as chemicals can separate, the reversal of this is a very difficult task. Such vibrations come from everyday small movements which would usually go unnoticed such as regular footfall, movements and even nearby traffic. Refrigerators or racks would therefore not be suitable for the long-term storage of wine in that there is a high risk of potential vibrations. Traditional wine cellars were good at eliminating the risk of vibrations due to them being underground, wine coolers now are equipped with vibration-reducing components such as rubber dampers to prevent unnecessary movement of the bottles.