How to Store Wine
You’ve purchased the perfect bottle of wine, and you want to save it for a special occasion. You aren’t interested in aging the wine since that isn’t necessary for most wines. However, you do need to find a spot to store the wine so it won’t break down before you drink it.
If you’ve done some independent research on how to store wine, you might think you need expensive equipment, but that isn’t the case. You don’t need to invest in equipment, but you do need to store the wine in the proper conditions. This will prevent the wine from aging too quickly or completely spoiling. It will also prevent the cork from deteriorating or the wine from leaking.
It will take a little bit of time at the beginning to find the perfect spot, but once you do, you can use that same spot for all of your bottles. Before you know it, you will have your own makeshift wine cellar in your home.
Let’s look at the various factors you need to consider when storing your wine. Then, you’ll be ready to tuck that bottle away for safekeeping.
Temperature Is Important
People often throw their wine bottles in a garage or a refrigerator to store them, but that is a mistake. While you don’t have to store your wine at an exact temperature, it’s important that the bottles stay cool but don’t get too cold. You have to find that sweet spot or you’ll ruin your wine.
If your wine gets too warm, it will age faster than you want. That means your wine won’t be good by the time you retrieve it. It will lose all of the aromas and flavors that make it special, and it will be unpalatable.
On the other hand, if the wine gets too cold, it could turn to ice. Ice takes up more space than liquid does, so it will expand inside of the bottle, pushing the cork out. Then, that beautiful bottle of wine you have will be ruined. Either it will seep out of the bottle or air will get into the wine and cause it to break down. In both cases, you won’t be able to drink it, so you’ll have to toss it out and get another bottle.
What is the perfect temperature? While 55 degrees is considered ideal, you can shoot for anywhere between 45 degrees and 65 degrees. Your wine will be OK if it runs a couple of degrees above or below that range, but keep it as close to that range as you can. The closer you get to ideal conditions, the safer your wine will be in storage. Then, you can keep it there for a long time without having to worry about it breaking down and going bad.
Consistency Is Key
Many people store their wine in a place that has the right temperature, but then the temperature goes up and down, ruining the wine. When temperatures go up and down, liquid expands and contracts. This can push the cork out and cause the wine to leak.
Of course, minor temperature fluctuations are fine. Just make sure it doesn’t fluctuate too much. That means you need to find a spot that either stays close to the same temperature at all times naturally or a place where you can regulate the temperature at all times. This will leave many places out, such as the garage. The garage might be ideal during some months, but it will get too hot or too cold during other months unless you can regulate it in some way. That’s why when you ask people how to store wine, they will often quickly say, “Don’t store it in the garage.” Wine enthusiasts have seen many bottles of good wine go bad because they were stored in the garage.
Keep Your Storage Spot Dark
Sunlight and wine don’t mix when it comes to long-term storage. When wine is exposed to sunlight for too long, the UV rays cause serious damage. The rays actually degrade the wine and cause it to age well before its time. It can be exposed to sunlight for a short period of time, but if you want to keep the wine for months, you have to limit the light.
Some people keep the UV rays out, but they still let their wine bottles get exposed to lightbulbs. Your wine will probably be fine if it is exposed to light from bulbs, but your label will fade and look shoddy. It’s much better to store the wine in a dark spot so it looks and tastes as good as it did the day you put it away.
If you must expose your wine to light from lightbulbs, go with LED lightbulbs. These do less damage to the wine and the bottle.
Check the Humidity
Humidity is important for wine. The sweet spot sits at 60–80 percent humidity. If it dips below 60 percent, the wine might start to evaporate and oxidize. If it goes above 80 percent, the wine could grow mold.
People who know how to store wine understand that they might have to regulate the humidity, especially if they live in a climate that is dry or moist. There are humidifiers and other tools that people can get to regulate humidity.
Even if you don’t live in a place that is especially dry or moist, you should still use a humidity monitor to monitor the humidity wherever you store your wine. The reading you get might surprise you. You could end up needing a humidifier after all.
Keep It Still
Your wine wants to be left alone when it’s stored. Movement and vibrations agitate the wine, which prevents the sediments from settling. Most people don’t have any trouble keeping the wine still, but some people store the wine close to major appliances that cause vibrations. Go for a quiet place that doesn’t have a lot of action so you are less likely to disturb your wine.
The appliances that can cause vibrations might surprise you. Simply storing it too close to the air conditioner can cause problems, so scout out places around your home that are quiet and still.
Watch for Odors
The spot that you choose to store your wine should be free from odors. If you choose an area that has strong smells, the wine will take it on. Imagine that you store your wine next to an area where you use a lot of bleach. You uncork the wine and inhale the aroma, only to get a big whiff of bleach. That wouldn’t be very pleasant.
Avoid this problem by choosing an area that is free of odors. In order to achieve that, you need to pick a place that is well ventilated. You might not even notice an odor, but your wine could still pick it up, so be mindful of ventilation when selecting a spot.
Store It on its Side
If you only intend to store the wine for a month or two, this isn’t necessary. However, if you are going to store it for any longer, you need to keep it on its side. This keeps the wine pressed up against the cork, which prevents the cork from drying out. If the cork gets too dry, it will shrink, which means that air can get inside. That, as you know, will ruin a good bottle of wine. Storing it on its side will ensure that your cork stays in good shape for the long haul.
You’ll need a wine rack to store your wine on its side. You can buy one, but if you want to do it yourself, make it out of redwood. Redwood is strong, so you don’t have to worry about bending, and it’s also free of odors, so you don’t have to worry about smells getting into the wine. Plus, it’s a nice-looking wood and doesn’t require staining, so it’s an easy project to take on.
Keep It Secure
This doesn’t have anything to do with keeping your wine in good condition, but it is important that you store your wine somewhere that is secure. Someone might try to take your wine after you have spent so much time finding the perfect storage conditions. If your wine isn’t secure, you could end up missing a bottle or two. That will be upsetting when you go to get the bottle you’ve been waiting to drink.
Make Sure It’s Easy to Access
Many people don’t think of this when storing wines, but you want to choose a place that is easy to access. You don’t want to have to work too hard to get your wine when you’re ready for a drink. If you have to jump through too many hoops to get your wine, popping the cork and sipping it won’t be nearly as enjoyable.
You’ve looked at conditions that you need, but where should you store your wine? Let’s look at some of your best options. This list isn’t all inclusive, but it will give you some ideas of where and how to store wine.
A Little-Used Closet
A little-used closet is a great option. While you might have to check the humidity from time to time to make sure it stays within range, this is easy to keep dark and free from odors. You can prevent vibrations, and you can also regulate the temperature easily in such a location. Just make sure it is a closet that you rarely access. If you continuously open the door to get something, you won’t be able to keep it dark or free from vibrations. You also don’t want it to be a closet that you walk by on a regular basis. It should be out of the way and rarely used for this to be a good choice.
The basement is a top choice for storing wine. It’s dark, damp, and cool, but in some instances, it might be overly damp. You need to measure the conditions in your basement against the guidelines to see if it is a good option. Also, keep in mind that all basements are different. For instance, some are only partially submerged, so they aren’t as dark or cool as other basements. Others are leaky. You know what your basement is like. Give it a onceover to determine if it is a good spot for storing wine or if you should look elsewhere.
A Wine Refrigerator
While storing wine in your family’s normal refrigerator is a big mistake, a wine-only refrigerator is a good option. You can set the temperature on one of these refrigerators, so it will be perfect. This can be a refrigerator just like the one in your kitchen, but it is only used for wine. Just keep in mind that the light will pop on when you open the door, so don’t go in there over and over again.
You can also pick up a wine cooler or wine cellar and use it to store the wine. If you go with a wine cooler, consider getting one that has two sides to it. One side is for storing wine and the other side is for chilling wine you’re ready to drink. You can set different temperatures for the two sides. This is a great way to store wine while also having wine ready to drink.
Now that you know how to store wine, it’s time to take the next step. Scout out your home to find the perfect spot to store your wine, and get all of the necessary supplies. Check the humidity on a regular basis, and make sure the conditions remain ideal throughout the year. If you do everything right, your wine will stay in excellent shape for months and months. Just remember that most wines don’t need to be aged, so just store the bottle for several months until you are ready to drink it. Then, it will be just as good as it was the day you purchased it.
Check out our wine cooler comparison guide if you are interested in buying your own wine cooler.