Although we Wine Giques like to share wisdom about wine and how it relates to parties, boys and shoes (not necessarily in that order), we also occasionally like to include some basic, useful info, just to prove that we know what we're talking about. So, given the recent heat wave on the Left Coast, and Suenarita's recent departure for the sultry climes of the Deep South, we thought it might be useful to hand out a few tips for storing wine, just to remind ourselves that a little pampering goes a long way for just about anything.
1) Store wine on its side.
Wine bottles have been traditionally stoppered with corks for hundreds of years. Cork is a natural substance that is easily moldable to the shape of the bottle, and also has the valuable trait of slowing the entry of oxygen into the bottle, which “oxidizes” the wine, changing its flavor and color. Keeping a wine bottle on its side ensures that the cork remains moist, which is necessary to slow down that potentially nasty oxygen exchange. Modern winemakers are experimenting with different kinds of closures – you may have purchased bottles with synthetic (generally a form of plastic) or composite (made with cork granules) corks. You may have even purchased a fine bottle of wine with a screw top. This experimentation is happening because cork trees are somewhat endangered, and because natural cork itself can generate mold. These modern closures are quite effective, but haven’t been tested for long-term wine storage. So, to be safe, keep your wine on its side.
2) Keep bottles away from heat and light.
When you sit in the sun too long,
you get a sunburn, correct? Heat
and light also affect wine. While
many modern bottles are treated to screen out UV light, it’s best to keep your
wine in a cool, dark location that is as free of variables in temperature as
possible. The best way to store
wine is in low light, at a constant temperature of around 50-55 degrees F/10-16
degrees C for reds, and 45-50 degrees F/7-10 degrees C for whites. High humidity is best, as well. If you can purchase a small wine
refrigerator, all the better.
3) Keep bottles away from vibrations.
This advice is directed mostly at red wines that you plan to store for long periods of time. Vibrations can disperse sediments – which are tannins and pigments in the wine that break down over time – and keep them from settling, resulting in wine that feels “gritty” in the mouth. Keeping wines free from vibration, and setting red wines upright for a while, as well as decanting them before drinking, are useful ways to help the sediment settle and save you from a “rocky” drinking experience.
4) Keep bottles away from strong-smelling substances.
Remember that oxygen transfer that we discussed earlier? Well, it can also bring strange smells to your wine. A wine’s aroma is a large and important part of the drinking experience. Storing your wine with your garlic may ensure that vampires will not come to share it with you, but you probably aren’t going to want to drink it, either.
5) Re-cork bottles that aren’t fully consumed … and drink the rest of the wine as soon as you can.
This is perhaps the easiest tip to follow: drink all your wine as soon as possible after you’ve opened it. Removing the stopper allows oxygen to enter the wine much faster, sometimes resulting in oxidation in a matter of hours. Replacing the cork in the wine bottle, or using a wine bottle stopper, will slow this process somewhat, but usually only buys you an extra day or two. If you like a glass of wine in the evening, aren’t inclined to consume an entire bottle, consider purchasing half-bottles and splits instead.
Et voilà! Advice delivered. Now back to boys and shoes ...