Not everyone has the luxury of owning a wine fridge. Whether this is due to the expense or a lack of space, most casual wine drinkers choose not to invest in specific storage just for their wine. However, that does not mean that there are not steps that you can take to help store your wine properly before it is consumed.
If you are not familiar with wine storage techniques, consider the following tips to help guide you along the way.
Store Unopened Wine on its Side
One of the easiest wine storage tips to implement is to store the bottles simply laying on their side instead of upright. The reason for this is simple, as it allows the wine to come in contact with the cork. If the cork becomes too dry, it can be difficult to come out and may even break apart. If it does break and goes unnoticed, this could expose the wine to air and dust and will quickly ruin the wine.
That being said, if the bottle is sealed with a screw-top cap or a plastic cork, it can be stored upright. Additionally, all sparkling wines can be stored upright as the internal pressure helps keep enough moisture in the cork to prevent any issues.
If you are planning to keep some wine long enough to age it, it is often best to invest in professional wine storage if you do not have a cellar or basement with the proper climate conditions. Additionally, you will need to determine how long the wine should be aged to reach its optimum flavour.
Most inexpensive wines are not designed to be aged, but more expensive versions may recommend a minimum amount of ageing before opening. For example, a port may not reach full maturity for at least ten years, but a Merlot may be ready in as little as two years. Also, not all wine is designed to be aged indefinitely, so you will want to consider any maximum recommended ageing times to ensure that you can enjoy the bottle once it is at its peak.
Before you begin the process, you will want to label the wine according to when it should be considered mature enough for consumption. This can be done with a simple tag hung around the neck of the bottle, as this avoids actually marking on the bottle or label. You will also want to organise your wine to ensure that when you do begin to consume it, that you are starting with the proper bottle.
If you do regularly age your wine or serve wine of older vintages, you will want to invest in a wine decanter in order to separate the wine from any sediment that was acquired over time, especially with an older port or Bordeaux.
Find a Space with Optimal Conditions
There are a variety of factors to consider for storing wine. First, you want to find a space that is at the right temperature. The space should be cool, normally in the realm of 13℃, and the bottles should be kept out of the sunlight. Ideal humidity is often around 50 to 80 percent.
Wine that is stored at too high of a temperature will experience changes to its flavour and may not last as long. In comparison, an environment that is too cold or too dry may dry out the cork, allowing air into the bottle. It there is too much humidity, your wine may even mould.
Since storing bottles on their side is best, you may need to ensure that your selected location has a method for keeping the bottles in place. Simple wine racks are often sufficient and can allow you to access all of your bottles fairly easily. If you are looking for longer-term storage, you may consider a shelving system that is designed specifically to carry the weight of multiple bottles for periods of up to twenty years, depending on the strain of grape.
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