Your wine needs to be stored correctly to remain fresh for longer and to mature well. As wine ages, it goes through chemical processes and develops new textures, flavours, and aromas. Wine can age badly, or it can age well - and storing your wine correctly will ensure that your wine ages well.
There are certain factors that can impact how well your wine keeps - whether it be the type of cork used, sunlight, or temperature. Keep reading to learn more about the main factors that can affect your wine during storage, so you know how to best store your wine collection in your home.
Although this may be an obvious factor, many people still make the mistake of storing their wine at the wrong temperature. Many people will keep their wine in warm spaces, but some people will also keep their wine in conditions that are too cold, which can be just as bad for the wine.
Storing your wine in warmer conditions can speed up the ageing process, and cause your wine’s flavours, aromas, and appearance to deteriorate. Temperatures above 15ºC can cause your wine to develop an irreversible cooked taste, which may overpower its natural flavours. Stewed wine may be nice with mulled wine, but it’s not recommended for regular wines.
Likewise, storing your wine in temperatures below the recommended 10ºC could result in the wine losing its aromas and flavours. Freezing temperatures can also cause the wine to freeze, damaging the cork, bottle, and wine. It can cause the cork to shrink and push out of the bottle, which will allow oxygen to enter the bottle causing the wine to oxidise. If your bottle is stored vertically, the wine could potentially leak.
To be on the safe side, it’s always recommended to store your wines at temperatures between 11ºC and 15ºC - with some sparkling wines or ice wines being an exception to the rule. Some wine coolers will allow you to change the temperature zones, meaning your reds and whites can be stored at one temperature and your sparkline wines at another.
Wine fridges that offer dual or multi-temperature zones also allow you to prepare wine for serving, as the optimal serving temperature and storing temperature for wines aren’t always the same.
Another factor that can impact the taste, appearance, and smell of your wine during storage is light. Wine that has been exposed to high volumes of light will age quicker - this is because it triggers a chemical reaction.
This can ruin the natural flavours and aromas of the wine, causing the wine to develop an unpleasant acidic taste. Always avoid exposing your wine to direct sunlight, and avoid incandescent lighting when storing your wine collection.
A good alternative is lightbulbs that have UV-protective coating - using UV-protective lights can prevent any premature ageing of your wine. Many wine coolers will have doors that block UV rays, which is effective in keeping your wine fresh and drinkable.
If you’re on a budget, storing your wine in a dark and cool environment should do the trick - whether it be in your basement or the back of a cupboard, your wine should be protected from UV rays. Many wine bottles are stored in dark or green bottles that can help to protect the wine from harmful UV rays - but you should still take steps to protect your wine from sunlight.
Prosecco and other sparkling wines are often kept in transparent glass bottles, offering no sunlight protection. White wine is also often kept in clear glass bottles, so ensure that you take extra steps to protect these wines from UV rays.
Humidity is something many people overlook when storing their wine collection. Wine should be stored in dark and cool spaces with between 65% and 75% humidity levels for optimal preservation.
Too much humidity can cause labels to peel off the bottles, which is the last thing any wine collector wants to happen - as it can decrease the value of the bottle. It can also cause the wine to develop mould or mildew, which not only looks bad but can cause the wine to taste unpleasant.
Another negative effect of storing your wine in an overly humid environment is that it can dampen the cork, which can lead to oxidisation. However, a little humidity is good for your wine collection. Humidity is needed to ensure that the cork remains moist and stays in the bottleneck. Without enough humidity, the cork may slip out of place and expose the wine to oxygen. A wine cellar can be a great way to store your wine for optimal preservation.
When installing a wine cellar it’s important that it meets all the right conditions, including the optimal humidity levels. The majority of wine fridges will also have humidity control, making them a great option for storing your wine collection. Storing your wine in the right humidity levels as well as considering the other factors will ensure that your wine ages well, and remains fresh for much longer.
Another factor that you should consider when storing your wine is movement and vibration. Excessive movements or vibrations can affect the way your wine ages, and result in unpleasant flavours and aromas. Movement can prevent the sediment from settling at the bottom of the bottle, which can leave unwanted sediment floating around the bottle.
This can taste unpleasant, and ruin your wine drinking experience. Sediment floating in the wine can taste bitter, and it won’t be smooth and pleasant. If you have wine that you plan on ageing, you should always handle the bottles gently and slowly. It is always recommended to avoid quick movements when rearranging your wine or picking up bottles - particularly with aged wine.
Vibrations and excessive movement can affect the chemistry of your wine, as can the way you place your bottle for storage. It may be a good idea to store your wine vertically, as this allows sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle.
You could also store your wine vertically. When you store a wine laying down, it submerges most of the cork in the wine. This can help to keep the wine moist, ensuring that it remains in place. One of the best orientations to store your wine is angled upwards - however, try to avoid tilting the wine more than 10 degrees, as this may cause the cork to dry out.