How to store wine

A question that I frequently get as a fine wine retailer is how to store wine to keep it from going bad and/or lasting longer. The single greatest danger to wine from the time that it is bottles to when you drink it is poor storage. Wine ages best when resting between 55-60 degrees F. At this temperature the subtle chemical reactions that age a wine happen at an optimal pace. Temperature fluctuations as well as heat can pre-maturely age a wine. A wine that gets too hot can be permanently ruined. This temperature can be different for different wines but I am generally suspect of wine that has made it beyond 80 degrees F. A cool dark place between 55-60 degrees is ideal. Wine destined for quick consumption rather than aging does not need to be stored so cold. A general rule for serving temperatures is to serve lighter bodied wines colder than fuller bodied wines. When I have worked in restaurants white wine was typically stored at about 35 degrees. This is because the refrigeration may have needed to be multi-use to also keep some food items cold. This might be a great starting temperature for Champagne, but I would frequently skip using an ice bucket for rich Chardonnays that typically didn’t start to strut their stuff until hitting 45 degrees. I liked to store red wines at about 68 degrees, which is a great starting point for Pinot Noir, but didn’t take long for Cabernet Sauvignon to warm up to about 75 degrees which helped to soften their tannins. Sometimes it is good to chill a really light bodied red such as Beaujolais to bring out its structure and delicate fruit. Ultimately, your storage temperature will depend on whether you are aging a wine or if you will be drinking it in the near future. It is important to note that the vibrations of a compressor may pre-maturely age a wine if stored too long in a refrigerator. The vibrations will serve to oxygenate a wine. Oxygen can be a friend to wine, but too much will ruin it. Ironically, the perfect highly humid environment that will keep a cork moist and keeping a nice seal will also destroy wine labels over time. For this reason, many wineries that hold back wine for aging such as with many vintage ports, may not label the bottles until they are released. Generally though, as long as you store your bottles on their side you should be alright. Most modern wine cellars and coolers also regulate humidity to strike the right balance between not drying out your corks and not turning your wine collection into a moldy dungeon. Where I live in Hawaii, few people have air-conditioning. So, I usually recommend that they store partially consumed bottles in the refrigerator and then take them out to warm up again in the ambient temperature before consuming the next day. You are usually better off storing a wine more cold than necessary than too warm. If you don’t have a basement with a steady temperature throughout the year than I highly recommend investing in a wine cooler or wine room. Fine wine is a perishable product and deserves the right temperature just as you would want to store food at the proper temperature.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply