Cellaring and Storing Your Wine

Today, I want to  share some information for cellaring and storage at home.  I know this topic has been a concern for some of you and I thought it might help to get some tricks from me.  Remember, our wines have been temperature controlled from the winery and it helps for them to stay that way when they reach your home.

Storing Wine

Storing wine properly is important because just like food wine is susceptible to spoiling. The key to successful storage is to protect wine from its enemies: heat, oxygen, light and low humidity. As you all know, this is why there is not a bottle of wine out in the open in the shop. I want you all to have the best possible experience when you enjoy your bottles purchased from me. Storing Leftover Wine Sooner or later, you are going to open a bottle of wine that you will not be able to finish. Rather than discarding the remaining wine, preserve the open bottle by using one of the following techniques: 

1. Reinsert the cork and place the bottle in the refrigerator Assuming that it is still intact, it may be possible to reinsert the original cork and then place the bottle into the refrigerator. Oxygen is wine’s enemy and unfortunately, this method will not protect your wine from the effects of oxidization. Results will be mixed, with some wines surviving better than others. Your wine will be best if finished within a few days. 

2. Pour your wine into a smaller bottle By pouring your remaining wine into a smaller bottle, you are reducing the amount of oxygen that is in contact with the wine. This is preferable to storage in the original bottle however, your wine is still not totally immune to the effects of oxidization. 

3. Remove the oxygen with a vacuum pump An inexpensive vacuum pump called a “Vac-U-Vin” is available from your local wine store which will remove most of the air from a bottle, creating a vacuum. Not all of the air is removed however, so effects of oxidization are reduced but not eliminated. The vacuum can cause the evaporation of the esters and aldehydes, throwing off the wine’s delicate flavor and aroma. Therefore, you may be replacing one problem with another. Still, the vacuum pump is an inexpensive solution and does work better for some wines than others. I sell various types of pumps at the shop for you to use to avoid oxidation. 

4. Replace the oxygen with an inert gas The best way to preserve your wine is to completely eliminate oxidization. This can be easily accomplished by replacing the oxygen within the wine bottle with a gas that will not affect the wine. Local wine shops sell small cans of inert gas; inserted through a very thin straw, a few shots of the gas will fill the empty space within the bottle. Endorsed by some of the country’s best-known wine critics, Private Preserve is one of the better brands. A single canister will preserve up to 120 bottles of wine. These are available to purchase at the shop as well. 

Cellaring Wine 

Although some wines are ready to drink when they are purchased, others need to age in order to reach their full potential. The longer you plan to store your wine, the more critical it is that your wine is stored in a healthy environment. It would be a shame to store a wine for 10 years only to find out that inadequate storage methods caused the wine to become undrinkable. A controlled environment is key to the preservation of wine. Temperature, humidity, light and the position of the wine are all elements that must be controlled. 

1. Temperature Wine is best stored between 53°F and 59°F. Storing wine in a warm room, near a heat source or in a refrigerator for more than a few days can damage a wine. Rapid changes in the temperature may also have a negative impact, with whites more sensitive than reds. Standard air conditioners, although effective at cooling are also effective at removing humidity; an element that is necessary for the preservation of wine. Special cooling units are available which will maintain the humidity in the room being cooled. 

2. Humidity Wine should be stored in a humid environment, ideally at approximately 70%. If the humidity levels are too low, the cork dries out causing air to enter the bottle or evaporation to occur. If the levels are too high, the wine labels may discolor or rot and if levels go beyond 95%, molds may begin to grow. 

3. Light Avoid direct sunlight as it will cause the wine to age prematurely. Ultraviolet light should also be avoided and can easily penetrate even dark wine bottles. Sparkling wines are the most sensitive of all wines to the damaging affects of light. If you have a wine cellar, incandescent or sodium vapor lights are preferable to fluorescent lighting. 

4. Vibration Vibrations caused by washing machines and machinery as well as loud sounds can also be detrimental to the health of your stored wine. All types of wine may be affected, but reds are the most sensitive due to their sediment. 

5. Ventilation The area where your wine is stored should be well ventilated. Odors can enter a bottle through the cork, damaging the wine inside. 

6. Storage Angles All wines should be stored on their sides. This will ensure that the cork remains moist and that the bottle remains sealed. Fortified wines (excluding Port) however should be stored standing upright. Other Storage Methods Unless you have a spare room and have total control over the room’s environment, you may have a difficult time storing wine properly. If you live in an apartment, it may seem like an impossible task.