any wine lover, storing wine
well is very
important. There are a few simple principles that need to be understood
in order to select proper wine storage conditions. We can logically
break down the process into just 3 categories: storing wine for
the short haul, storing wine for long term aging and storing (or
saving) wines that have already been opened.
Short Term Storage:
This is wine you will consume within 6 months. These may be bottles
that are just home from the store and destined to be consumed shortly
or bottles that have been pulled from longer storage to be accessible
for spur of the moment consumption.
closer you can duplicate the conditions required for long term storage,
the better. However, in many situations, keeping the wines in a
box in an interior closet is a satisfactory solution.
the bottles stored so that:
- the cork stays moist
- the wines are at
the lowest stable temperature possible
- the location is
free of vibration
- the location is
not a storage area for other items that have a strong odor
away from those little 9 bottle racks that end up on top of the
refrigerator; it's hot, close to the light and vibrates from the
Long Term Storage:
This is wine that you will keep for more than 6 months before consumption.
A good storage location for wine is generally dark,
is free of vibration, has
high humidity and has a low stable
accepted 'ideal' conditions are 50 to 55 degrees farenheight and
70 percent humidity or higher. The high humidity is important because
it keeps the corks from drying and minimizes evaporation. The only
problem with even higher levels of humidity is that it brings on
growth of mold on the labels or the loosening of labels that have
water soluble glue.
lower than 55 degrees only slow the aging of the wines. There have
been wines found in very cold cellars of castles in Scotland that
are perfectly sound and are much less developed that those kept
at 'normal' cellar temperature. A near constant temperature is preferable
to one that fluctuates.
regard to light, most modern bottles have ultraviolet filters built
into the glass that help protect the contents from most of the effects
of UV rays. Despite the filters in the glass, long term storage
can still allow enough rays in to create a condition in the wine
that is referred to as 'light struck'. The result is that the wine
picks up the taste and smell of wet cardboard. This is especially
noticeable in delicate white wines and sparkling wines. The condition
can be created by putting a bottle of champagne near a fluorescent
light for a month.
or constant vibrations from pumps, motors or generators should be
avoided since the vibrations they cause are thought to negatively
affect the evolution of the wines. One additional factor to avoid
is storing other items with very strong odors near the wine. There
have been many reports of wines picking up the aromas of items stored
you do not have a suitable wine cellar, there are many types of
'wine refrigerators' that will work as well. They differ from common
refrigerators in that they work at higher temperatures (50-65 degree
range) and they do not remove humidity from the air. There are kits
available that will convert regular refrigerators into suitable
wine storage units.
Storage after opening:
This is storage for bottles of table wine that have been opened
but not completely consumed. There are many methods for prolonging
the life of opened table wines but even the best can only slow the
degradation of the wine. These methods are for still table wines.
Sparkling wines and fortified dessert wines have different characteristics
Gas Systems: Sparging the bottle with a gas (nitrogen or argon)
can be very effective but it is expensive and I've never known anyone
who actually used a gas system over a long period of time. They
just seem to ultimately be more trouble than they are worth. If
you do elect to try such a system, stay away from carbon dioxide
since it will mix into solution with the wine.
Vacu-vin: An item came on the market a few years ago called a Vacu-vin.
This consists of rubber bottle stoppers that hold a weak vacuum
created by a hand pump that comes with the system. While some people
swear by them, there is a consistent complaint that wines treated
with a Vacu-vin seem 'stripped' of aromas and flavor. They actually
create a lower pressure environment instead of an actual vacuum.
This means they don't remove all the oxygen and oxidation of the
wine will still occur.
Half bottles, marbles and progressive carafes: These are all ways
of limiting the amount of air in contact with the wine. The concept
is good if you move quickly and refrigerate the remaining wine.