How To Store Your Wine

Storage

We talked about aging Champagne and I realized it might be good to talk about how to store your wine.

The first thing to recognize is that wine isn’t like a bottle of scotch – it continues to change in the bottle.

The aging at the winery is relatively brief. The wine changes so rapidly in the small barrel that it would be worn out by more than months in the barrel for whites or a year or two for reds. So, bottle aging takes over from there.

A few months back we talked about which wines to age so I’ll just recap that most wines don’t improve with age and the best candidates are high-quality red wines and dessert wines. But the quality of the storage conditions has everything to do with how well the wine ages. 

Fortunately, the conditions are the same for all wines: reds, whites, bubblies and dessert wines. You see photos of dusty bottles aging away in musty old cellars because it works. The wine wants to be kept in a cool, dark place.

What does that mean? The temperature should be between 45 and 65 F with minimal fluctuation. Slight, slow changes from season to season won’t matter much, but big temperature swings can be very damaging. So, don’t keep your wine in the kitchen unless it’s for the short term! I can’t tell you how many wine racks I’ve seen sitting on top of the fridge where, of course, the heat rises. 

If you have a basement, that’s terrific. Or, maybe you can insulate a closet or the area under the stairs. Wine fridges are great if you can swing it. 

Cork-finished bottles need to be stored sideways so that the cork is swollen with wine and provides a tight seal. For plastic corks and other alternatives it doesn’t matter.

So, storage isn’t too complicated at all. Just keep in mind that the wine can get too old! Don’t put a special bottle on such a high pedestal that there’s no occasion good enough for it. I’m a huge fan of the great concept started by the terrific wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher – it’s called Open That Bottle Night and the point is to have a fabulous meal and open special bottles you’ve been saving for a real occasion with your friends. Traditionally, it’s in February, but no need to wait until then 🙂 Cheers!

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