Storing Opened WineThe discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars. - Benjamin Franklin
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Wine Storage

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Should you store wine you drink everyday in a special way or place?

Storing Wine Bottles - Wine Racks And Holders

A wine rack is essential. Whether your wine storage rack is metal, wooden, wrought iron, hanging or wall mounted does not matter.

Wine in a bottle is a living thing. The effects of time cause gradual changes in its flavors. Variation in temperature is its enemy, so proper storage is a fundamental product need. Some basic principles in storage will go far to enhance your enjoyment of wine. Once you have purchased wine, whether it's a few bottles or several cases, you need to address the issue of storage.

Storing Wine

Short Term Storage

This is for wine that you will consume within six months. Or they may be bottles that are just home from the store and intended to be consumed shortly or bottles that have been pulled from longer storage to be available for spur of the moment consumption.

The closest you can duplicate the conditions necessary for long term storage, the better. However, small wine racks kept in your kitchen, dining room, pantry or where ever are a satisfactory solution in the short term.

Keep the bottles stored so that:

  • the bottle is on its side so the cork stays moist
  • the wines are at the lowest stable temperature possible
  • the location is free of vibration
  • the location is not a storage area for other items that have a strong odor

Refrain from placing your rack on top of the refrigerator. Your refrigerator is hot, close to the light and vibrates from the refrigerator compressor.

Long Term Storage

If you plan to collect fine wines that will benefit from additional bottle maturity (over six months), proper storage is critical. Before choosing a space, be sure it will be big enough to house future purchases. In some cases, empty space beneath a stairway is sufficient, or you may find it necessary to allow room for hundreds of wines stored both as individually racked bottles and full cases.

You will need something that is temperature controlled, manages humidity, protects from vibration and also UV rays. Dark, cool, stable environments work best for wine.

Wine Storage Temperature

The correct storing wine temperature does not have rapid fluctuations. 55° F is a good, but you can live with 50° - 57° F (10° to 14° C). Wide swings in temperature will harm the wine. Having too high a temperature will age the wine faster so it won't get as complex as it might have and can also "cook" a wine until the fruit character becomes blunted, resulting in flat aromas and flavors. Having too low a temperature will slow the wine's maturation.

If the temperature rises to 70° F, be prepared to drink your red wines within 10 years. Under no circumstances should you store and cellar white wines more than 1-2 years at temperatures above 70° F.

Just as important is the rate at which temperature changes. A rapid rise and fall of temperature may cause pressure changes within a bottle, forcing the cork upwards and allowing leaks while permitting air to enter the bottle. Air is another of wine's enemies. Any prolonged exposure will lead to oxidation, which produces a brownish color and Sherry-like flavors.

Humidity

About 60% humidity percent is best. This helps keep the cork moist. The wine will oxidize if the air (and its oxygen) gets to it. If the cork drys out, it can shrink and let air in. This is another reason to keep the bottles on their sides. The wine itself will help keep the cork moist.

How to store wine.  What are the things you should consider about wine storage? What methods work best for storing open wine bottles?

Lack of light

Light may also harm wine over time. Bottles should be kept from direct sunlight, preferably in darkness, and should be stored on their sides, either in cases or racked. Wine stored in darkness is more likely to retain its clarity. Light reacts to proteins in the wine to form a haze as well as other unpleasant effects, such as off aromas and flavors. White wines are usually the most at risk to sunlight. 

Lack of vibration

Some experts say that vibration from appliances or motors can travel through wine and be detrimental to its development. However, scientific studies have been done, and there is no sign that vibrations affect a wine. It may stir up the sediment, but nothing more.

Lack of strong odors

The storage area should be free from chemical odors, such as cleaners, household paints, etc. Whatever it is that is causing the odor stands a good chance of getting through the cork and into the wine.

How To Store Wine

Storing Open Wine Bottles

Keeping the wine as the winemaker intended overnight is no easy feat, given how rapidly a wine can degrade when exposed to oxygen. The biggest challenge with storing opened wine is the acetic bacteria often present and active in open bottles. Wine does not oxidize in the chemical way, but generally rather more rapidly as the bacteria feed, turning your wine to vinegar.

Wine Storage

A typical wine left overnight without any special handling will not be drinkable due to oxidation. On the other hand, a wine that did not fully open up during the first night of drinking may well be better with a night to continue evolving. There are four complementary solutions all of which minimize the effect of oxidation on the wine:

  • Vacuum Corking - Vacuum corking works for the short term, longer if the wine started a little closed in the first place. The problem with this is that while some wines seem to benefit this way, others turn flat and dull.
  • Gassing - Laying down a gas blanket works better, but a wine will still react a little with the "neutral" gas or continue interacting with the air mixed in earlier.
  • Storage in a smaller bottle - A small bottle, of course, reduces the amount of oxygen in the bottle, but pouring into the smaller bottle is tedious and exposes the wine to more air.
  • Refrigeration - Refrigeration is controversial. Some feel that refrigeration "kills" a wine, even a white. However, if storing opened red wine, it needs to be allowed to warm up before drinking. Do not disturb the bottle. Place it into the fridge soon after opening.

Of course, these are general guidelines. Individual tastes may vary.

 

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