Everyone knows that wine gets better with age, right? What many people don’t know is how to properly store wine so that it actually does improve with time — and doesn’t turn into expensive vinegar. In an ideal world, you’d have access to a wine cellar for your precious bottles. But since most people don’t — and, let’s face it, even the most avid wine collector probably doesn’t have enough to fill a cellar — you’ll have to find ways to store your wine at home. Read on for the do’s and don’ts of storing wine.
Do: Keep your bottles chilled. Keeping your wine chilled — not cold, mind you, but chilled — helps prolong its life. Heat damages wine and room temperature wines don’t have a chance to be enjoyed to the fullest. A wine chiller is an excellent idea if you plan to store a lot of wine.
Don’t: Store your wine on top the refrigerator. The fridge-top wire or metal wine rack seems to be a staple in most suburban kitchens. It looks cute, but it’s not very good for your wine! The top of your fridge is actually one of the warmest places in your house! It also can get your wine closer to light sources like kitchen fixtures, which does nothing positive for the quality of your wine.
Do: Store your wine bottles on their sides. Don’t leave your bottles upright. Placing your bottles on their sides allows the wine to stay in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist and expanded. A dry cork will shrink and either drop into the bottle or allow air and airborne matter into your wine.
Don’t: Store your wine in the kitchen refrigerator. Storing the rest of an opened bottle of wine in the fridge short-term is fine, but using your regular kitchen refrigerator for wine storage isn’t a great idea. The temperature in the average home fridge is too cold for most wine to be stored there long-term. The cold can also dry out the cork.
Do: Keep the temperature of your wine constant. Temperature fluctuations can damage the quality of the wine and even the integrity of the cork. Keep your wine at a constant temperature with a few fluctuations as possible.
Don’t: Expose your wine to direct light. Harsh light degrades wine quality. Incandescent light bulbs give off heat, which ages wine more quickly and compromises the quality. Direct sunlight can also interfere with wine’s integrity. And the heat from light sources can also shrink corks. If you want to be able to easily choose a bottle of wine, choose LED lights for your storage area — these give off much less heat.
Do: Pay attention to humidity. Along with temperature, the humidity level is an important consideration when storing wine. A humidity level of 50-80% is the perfect range for storing wine. Storing wine in an area that is too humid risks mold getting a foothold. On the other hand, storage that is too dry raises the risk of dried-out corks.
Don’t: Store wine where it will experience vibration. It seems strange, but vibration can disrupt the quality of your wine. Vibration can lead to chemical imbalances that impact the flavor, quality, and longevity of your wine. Avoid storing your wine near appliances that give off heavy vibrations, such as washing machines.