5 Tips to Storing Wine Safely for Years to Come
Wine cellars are a big business. People spend thousands, if not tens of thousands, to create environments to safely store their tasty wines in homes and restaurants. Why? Because wine is a fickle beast, a nuanced beverage made of grapes that loves time to develop. The great wines of the world can spend years, decades even, maturing. These five storage tips will help you understand why we do what we do.
Note: These tips don’t really apply to Tuesday Night Pizza Wines (those bottles that get drunk within a few weeks of purchase).
Lay the wine on its side
As long as the French and Italians continue with tradition by using natural cork in their high end wines, there will be the need to lay a wine down. There’s an important reason for this: It keeps the cork moist to avoid it breaking down. A dried out cork can let more air into the wine, lead to increased evaporation or fall into the bottle. This doesn’t happen overnight, rather over years of cellaring.
Make sure there’s humidity
For the same reason above. Natural cork can dry out in wines that are aged for years. In extreme cases, this can break the seal of the wine leading to evaporation or premature oxidation. The ideal humidity level is 70%.
Keep it cool and constant
Extreme heat can spoil a wine in minutes. Room temperature conditions don’t have that dramatic an effect but they do speed up the aging of a wine. Ideal cellaring temperature is 55 degrees, and just as important as that mark is maintaining it. Wine loves to age peacefully, keeping it within a range of 2 or 3 degrees will decrease chance of long-term damage.
Avoid harmful elements
Direct sunlight, heat vents, appliances and other elements can damage a wine quickly. In most cellar environments, these are mitigated. In passive storage, take extra care to remove these nasty elements. A fridge gives off a lot of heat; don’t store wine above it. While a south-facing window soaks in enough afternoon sun to keep your cat happy, it can spoil a wine in hours. Your AC vent also spits out heat in the winter. Avoid putting wine nearby. Basically, use common sense when storing wine, especially when not using a cooling system.
Keep calm and store on
Have we mentioned wine likes to mellow? In long-term storage situations, the vibrations from a power-house surround sound system can agitate the wine. So can racking that is connected to a busy stair case. Avoid vibrations!!!
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