How To Store Wine Properly – 5 Top Tips | A Wine Collectors Guide

1st March 2020

Wine storage is often something that is overlooked when it comes to keeping wine in the home. If you are planning on storing your wine for a year or more then there are specific conditions that the wine needs in order to preserve the aromas, taste, presentation and value of the wine. It’s important you know how to store wine properly.

Below you will find some of the key points on wine storage that should be considered prior to buying your wine and bringing it home. These are particularly important if you are purchasing wine as an investment as the incorrect storage conditions can affect the future value of the wine. If you want to learn how to store wine properly, be sure to read below.

There would be nothing worse than sitting on that bottle of Bordeaux from your birth year, or the Barolo you got on your honeymoon 10 years ago only to find that it is completely cooked. Sat there, by the window, on top of the washing machine, next to the racks of salted beef for that biltong you’re making. These are certainly not the ways how to store wine. It may not be as glamorous or fun as tasting the good stuff, but any certified oenophile has to consider the perfect and the absolute worst conditions for how to store wine properly.

Optimal Storage Temperature For Wine

Temperature is key when considering how to store wine. When wines are stored in a traditional underground wine cellar, the average temperature is steadily 12°C throughout the year. The walls will insulate the wine cellar throughout the winter and likewise help to keep the wine cool in the summer months.  It has been proven that 12°C is the ideal storage temperature for wine, it is not too warm and not too cold. This creates an even balance within the wine, allowing the flavours to develop and be enhanced. This optimal wine storage temperature has been tried and tested over hundreds of years.

One of the biggest misunderstandings when considering how to store wine is that the serving temperature related to a specific wine is the temperature that it should be stored at. This is incorrect. The ideal temperature for storing red, white and sparkling wines is 12°C, regardless of what temperature they are served at.  If we were to store our white wines at 5-8°C (serving temperature) the ageing process would basically be inhibited. In this case, the wine would be simply to cold to allow the compounds inside the bottle to move around freely and combine to create different aromas and complexity in taste. This is what a lot of people like about wine and by storing wine too cold you can inhibit a wines potential.

Likewise, if we were to store our red wines at 14-20°C then the rate in which the reactions occur would increase dramatically. For every 10°C the temperature increases, the rate of reaction doubles so you can imagine how much quicker the wine would develop.  Effectively, the wine will be rushed through the ageing process. 12°C is the ideal temperature for storing wine primarily because it is the right balance, encouraging the flavours and aromas to develop to an optimal level. Remember that when thinking about how to store wine.

How to Store Wine

Keep Wine Away From UV Light

Next on the list of considerations when how to store wine is light. Wines are best to be stored in a dark, cool environment as light is well known for spoiling wine. If you have ever seen a bottle of wine on display in the window of a wine merchant or restaurant, you may see the colour has started to turn. 

Consistent exposure to UV light can affect the colour of the wine and will turn a red wine to a dark brown colour, almost as if it has been oxidised. This will have a negative effect on the taste and smell of the wine.  UV light has the ability to speed up the natural reactions that are occurring inside the bottle along with raising the temperature. This is the reason to store wine properly in a dark, cool and closed environment. Make sure you have the lighting right when thinking about how to store wine.

Wine Storage And Humidity

When wine is stored properly, it develops and matures as it ages, improving the overall flavour and complexity of the wine. This is the reason that older wines can fetch so much at auction. However, the humidity of the wine storage space is also highly influential in how well a wine develops with age. If you don’t consider this when planning how to store wine you might run into issues.

The humidity doesn’t directly influence the taste or smell of a wine. However, it can affect the condition of the label and cork. Damaged labels from excess humidity in wine storage area will directly impact the wines value on resale or auction. A lack of humidity in the wine storage area can also cause the wine bottle cork to dry out and let oxygen into contact with the wine. This is what causes oxidation of the wine and ultimately spoiling it. 

In order to store wine properly and manage humidity levels, purchasing a wine storage cabinet is a great idea. A good quality wine storage cooler will be able to regulate and control the humidity to recommended levels of between 55-85%. 

Store Wine Without Vibrations 

When learning how to store wine, make sure you keep things steady. Those who are serious about creating their own wine cellar will know that aged wine needs to be kept very still in order to store the wine properly. In order to store wine properly you should leave wine untouched until it is ready to drink because vibrations are disruptive to the wine ageing process. 

Vibrations can cause movement in the wines cork and therefore subject it to oxidation. Another issue has to do with the sediment which can build up in aged wines. A high level of vibration can disrupt and break down the sediment, making it hard to filter out once you pour the wine into a glass.

In order to store wine properly you should not keep it in your standard kitchen fridge. They vibrate too much, are too cold and the wine is likely to be moved around as food is taken in and out of the fridge. The best way to store wine properly is in a dedicated wine fridge, designed specifically to mitigate everything we have talked about above.

Wine And Other Odours

Odours are also important when it comes to storing wine properly. Although a wine bottle is sealed, there is still the potential for external odours to make the wine undrinkable. When you smell the aromas of a wine in your glass, your brain tells you what you are about to taste. The smell has a major and profound affect as to how the brain will processes the flavour once in your mouth. If you’re learning how to store wine, don’t forget to keep strong odours away. Don’t be smoking fish by you vino!

Wine storage cabinets nowadays will come complete with charcoal filters to help purify the air within the area where the wine is being stored. It is best not to keep opening and closing the door of wine refrigeration units too much so the storage conditions remain optimum. By all means check up on your wine from time to time just don’t keep the door open for too long at any time. 

Closing Wine Storage Thoughts

That’s our guide on how to store wine. If you follow all the key points above you will be storing wine properly. One other thing to mention is to store the wine on its side as opposed to standing it up. This ensures the wine is kept in contact with the cork and stops it from drying out. 

Overall, should you invest in proper wine storage for you cellar to protect your investment in wine. For this article we partnered with Elite Wine Refrigeration who are a UK based wine storage company, specialising in wine storage units, wine racks and humidors for cigars. If you have any questions on how to store wine properly or would like more information please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected]. Then, you’ll be on the right path on how to store wine properly.

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We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to store wine properly. If you’d simply just like to learn more about wine from the comfort of your own home, be sure to check out our online blog and sign up to our mailing list. We’re always looking to teach people about different regions, grape varieties and producers. Beyond that, you can expect to find a whole host of playlists, cocktail cards and recipe cards packed full of wine pairing ideas. There might even be some special offers along the way so make sure that you don’t miss out!

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