Wine Storage 101: How to Maximize Your Wine’s Lifespan
So, you’ve finally jumped into the wine world and bought a few bottles that you’ve committed to enjoying and learning about. How exciting is that??
Now, you’re in your kitchen and deciding which one you’ll drink first and whether you should keep the rest in your cupboard, pantry, or refrigerator. Where’s the optimal place to be storing your wine so they don’t go bad?
Here’s some useful tips to get you started:
Room Temperature Vs. Home Refrigerator
The most important thing to remember is you must keep any unopened bottles in a cool place, away from sunlight. You often hear of “room temperature” when it comes to wine storage, but “room temperature” refers to European room temperatures and does not apply in a tropical country like the Philippines.
If the option for a small wine chiller is out of the question, the average home refrigerator is fine for short term, but for long term storage, it is not advisable. This is because the temperature of a home refrigerator is set very low (2-4 degrees Celsius) to keep perishable foods from spoiling.
The lack of moisture in your home refrigerator may affect the cork, causing it to shrink, allowing oxidation in the wine. Also, home refrigerators may be more prone to temperature fluctuations due to the constant usage (opening and closing). Temperature fluctuations may also affect the condition of your cork and depending how extreme the fluctuation is, your wine’s overall chemistry and taste may be affected as well.
Store in Room Temperature (European standards)
Wines are best kept at 11°C -13°C, in general. Sparkling, white wines and rosé wines are best kept at a cooler temperature (10°C), but if you only have one storage vessel, 13° is the best temperature, as you can bring down the temperature with an ice bucket. Do not leave wine bottles at extremely hot temperatures as the wine will taste cooked immediately.
Even just leaving it in a car or out on the kitchen countertop on a hot day for a few hours will spoil your wine. White wines that become dark in color and red wines that have turned brown are signs that the wine has “maderized”, taking on a cooked or woody flavor. The fruitiness and liveliness of the wines is already gone with these wines and are best tossed out.
Effect of Temperature Changes on Wine
Avoid temperature changes as this will shorten the life span of your wine and affect how your wine matures. Wine exposed to temperature changes as well as UV rays from sunlight will deteriorate quickly due to chemical changes and pressure changes in the bottle. This will affect the cork which is porous, allowing air to enter the bottle, contributing to oxidation especially fine wine.
Similarly, storing bottles upright also allows the cork to dry out and shrink allowing air to enter the bottle. Keep them on its side or upside down to prevent the cork from drying out. Wines with screw top closures are exempted from this and can be kept upright. Avoid any vibrations that will disturb the wine bottles.
Proper Humidity – Wine Label Perfection
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Keeping the humidity constant within 50%-70% is also important to keep the cork from drying out. The appropriate humidity is also due to keeping the labels of wine intact and free from mold.
The average wine drinker will probably not have a dehumidifier for their wine storage but reputable wine stores and restaurants will keep the humidity at a constant to prevent mold. To help with humidity for the average wine enthusiast, placing a pan of water can improve conditions.
Drinking Windows for Wine
Drink young white and rosé wines within 2-3 years to assure freshness. More expensive red wines can be stored for 3-5 years. Fine wines like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolos can be stored for more than 10 years if stored in correct conditions.
Leftover Wine Storage
Once opened, if you don’t finish your bottle, white and rosé wines are still drinkable after three to four days, if cork is put back in the bottle and returned to a cool place (ex. Refrigerator). Red wines could still be drunk the next day after opening but don’t let it go past two days. Wines opened can be used for cooking dishes like coq au vin or beef bourguignon if you absolutely cannot finish the whole bottle.
Remember, there are only 5 glasses in a 750ml bottle of wine, so if you have a friend or two to join you, you won’t have to worry about storing an opened wine bottle. Else, drink responsibly!