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Two women on Wine: Dos and Don’ts of storing wine

Keep it cool, and away from light and vibration

Posted: February 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

This column was originally published in Escape on Oct. 24, 2008.

Where do you store your wine? Do you keep it in a cellar or spare closet? Perhaps you have a wine refrigerator, or you carefully stack each bottle in a wine rack in a corner of your dining room.

Wherever you store your wine, following a few basic wine-storage guidelines will help ensure that every bottle in your collection is as enjoyable as possible when you open it.

The important considerations for storing wine are: darkness, temperature, humidity, orientation, odors, vibration and movement.

Most of the wine sold in the United States is meant to be consumed within two to three years. However, wines including French red Bordeaux, German Riesling Kabinett, and a top California Cabernet Sauvignon (just to name a few) improve with bottle age. Regardless of whether a wine is stored for a short or long time, keep it away from light, heat and vibration.

Wine should be stored in a dark room, away from any light source. Direct light, especially sun and fluorescent light, can damage wine. UV rays can cause wine to become "light struck," resulting in an unpleasant odor. Darker bottles better protect the wine; some bottles have UV filters built into the glass. But if enough UV rays permeate the bottle, the wine will be ruined. If you can't keep a bottle entirely out of the light, keep it lightly wrapped in a cloth or store the bottle inside a box.

In regards to temperature and humidity, wine should be stored at a cool, but not cold temperature. The best temperature for storing wine is 55°F (13°C) but a constant temperature between 53°-60°F is recommended. A dramatic fluctuation in temperature is harmful to wine. At 75°F, wine begins to oxidize, so keeping the temperature constant is very important. As far as humidity is concerned, 60 percent is ideal. This will keep the cork in a good, pliable condition, preventing it from shrinking and drying out.

Should wine bottles be stored standing up or laid on their sides? Storing corked bottles on their sides allows the wines to stay in constant contact with the cork, preventing it from drying out, which lets air into the wine, spoiling it. In addition, if you store the wine label-side-up, you can easily spot any sediment that may have settled over time.

Excessive motion or vibrations can damage wine. If possible, store wine in a way that doesn't require moving in order to reach another bottle. You should not store wine near generators, washing machines, dryers or motors. Even vibrations from heavy traffic may negatively affect the wine. Also, try to avoid unnecessary transportation of your wine.
Finally, isolate the wine. Avoid storing wine near paint or gasoline. Since wine breathes, strong smells and chemical odors could permeate through the cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation may help prevent musty odors from entering the wine.

Whether you store wine in a cellar, refrigerator, spare closet or other area of your home, remember to adjust the wine's temperature before serving. Right before drinking the wine, allow the temperature to rise or fall to the appropriate serving temperature. Different wines taste best at slightly different temperatures. If you're not sure, give us a call and we'll be happy to guide you.


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