Is your idea of storing wine keeping it in the paper bag while you transport it from the store to home where you uncork it immediately? If it is, then perhaps you might not know what to do if you get a few bottles that you want to keep a little longer before opening. For the average person, storing wine does not need to be some big mystery. Here are a few tips to help you keep your wine from spoiling until you are ready to drink it.
- First of all, you should know how long a wine needs to be stored. Most wines aren't meant to be stored more than a few years. Chances are if you bought the bottle for less than $20, it's not a long term keeper. Everyday white wines should be consumed within two years of the vintage date on the bottle. Red wines shouldn't be stored more than three years from the vintage date. If you are unsure, ask the wine seller to recommend how long the wine should be stored.
- If you are keeping a bottle of wine for only a few years, there are two important requirements - darkness and a steady temperature that is not too high. Both can be achieved by storing the wine in a closet, a basement or even under a bed if there is no where else.
Ultraviolet light can increase the rate of spoilage of a wine. Temperature fluctuations, particularly raises in temperature, can cause the contents of the bottle to expand, pushing against the cork. If the cork breaks the seal, oxygen that leaks in will quickly spoil the wine.
- If storing for more than a month, try to keep the bottles horizontal so that the cork stays moist. An inexpensive wooden wine rack placed in your closet or cabinet can achieve this.
- If you insist on keeping some bottles displayed in a wine rack as a decorating touch, keep the rack out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat. Also, the bottles on the rack should be ones that you intend to drink sometime soon. Keeping a bottle of wine on a rack for three or four weeks will not affect its quality too much.
- Red wines are usually served at room temperature, but white wines are usually served chilled. It's okay to keep one unopened bottle chilling in the refrigerator, but the temperature in a refrigerator isn't steady. If you have several bottles you want to keep chilled, however, consider investing in an inexpensive wine refrigerator. For as little as $100 you can purchase a small wine refrigerator that will store six to nine bottles at a constant temperature.
- If you do have some bottles that need long term (three or more years) storage, they should be cellared. Cellaring means keeping wine properly stored to give it time to improve in the bottle. This can be done in a cool, dry basement or any place where the temperature and humidity can be controlled. Ideally, the temperature should be fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit; however temperatures of up to sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit are acceptable if the bottles will be kept for less than ten years.