Don't we all wish we had a proper wine cellar that keeps our wine aging at the right temperature and humidity with minimal light and vibration. But the truth is, for most of us, our wine storage is less than ideal.
How many of you store your wine in a garage, bedroom closet, or in a wine rack in your brightly lit kitchen? Don't worry, we have all done it! The downfall is your wine won't age as well as it should, but we are here to help you store your wine better so you can enjoy it longer.
1. Storage Temperature and Humidity
The key to storing your wine for proper aging can be tricky, especially if you don't have a wine cellar. Studies have shown that wine stored at room temperature age roughly 4 times faster than wines stored at the ideal temperature of 55 - 59 °F (12 – 15 °C) and 55 – 75% humidity.
But don't worry, if your wine is stored between 60 - 70 °F (16 – 22 °C) it will keep for roughly two years as long as your humidity isn't too low and the temperatures don't fluctuate too much. The risk of low humidity can cause the cork to dry out causing oxidization and evaporation, while the risk of high humidity can cause mold.
It is also important to minimize the impact of temperature fluctuations. Imagine what happens when wine heats and cools in a bottle. It expands and contracts, but the glass bottle does not. This can cause a series of issues, such as leakage or oxidation. If you are really serious about aging your wine, it is best to keep your wine enclosed, off the ground, in a dark, cool and humid space. The rule of thumb is your wine cellar should have seasonal temperature variations (i.e., summer to winter) of no more than 10 °F (5 °C) and daily temperature variations of no more than 3 ºF (1.5 ºC).
Lighting goes hand in hand with temperature and humidity. Ideally, wine should be stored in a dark spot out of direct sunlight or spotlights. The risk of keeping your wine in direct light can cause a protein haze, which results in murky or cloudy wine when poured into a glass. The other risk is unpleasant aromas and ultimately a reduced shelf life.
Consistent vibrations from appliances (e.g., fridge and washer and dryer) can cause damage to your wine. Studies have shown that consistent vibrations can change the flavour of your wine within 18 months or less. The rule of thumb is to never store your wine beside or even on an adjoining wall to a washer and dryer or refrigerator.
4. Clean Bottles
The first step in ensuring your wine ages properly is clean bottles. When making your own wine it is important that bottles are properly cleaned and sanitized before re-bottling your wine. There is nothing worse than putting perfectly good wine in dirty bottles. Even the smallest spec of mold can become naked to the eye and almost impossible to spot, which over time will result in unhealthy wine, such as giving it a sour taste and poor aromas.
A trick we follow is to clean your wine bottles as soon as you finish drinking it. That way you prevent any mold from forming. Just give them a rinse with warm water and place it spout down in a drying rack or in your sink. This allows the water and excess wine to drain out and not pool at the bottom of your bottle, which can create mold. Once your bottle is dry, place it spout down in your wine box and it is ready for the next time you bottle your wine. You will still want to wash and sanitize prior to bottling!
We know wine knowledge can be overwhelming at times, because there is a plethora of information out there. We hope these four tips help you store your wine better so you can enjoy it longer!
Vintner's Cellar Saskatoon