How to Store Wine

Wine culture is slowly reaching the common man in India and people prefer popping a bottle once in a while for a special occasion. Wine being a mediator between alcoholic drinks and simple juice, it is something which can be enjoyed with great tasting food and a good company. The best way to make wine accessible when we need it is by storing a bottle at home and then opening it as and when needed. However, many of us are oblivious of how a wine bottle has to be stored either before or after opening it.

The best place to store large number of wine bottles is the wine cellar. We just need to place the bottles on the racks of the cellar and close its door. Generally, the cellars allow us to adjust the temperature and humidity inside. We can also convert a wooden closet as a wine cellar if it is dark and cool inside.

Refrigerators or coolers are the best home storage places for wines. The refrigerator keeps the wine at a constant temperature, preventing them from spoiling.

Before Opening

Wine's Best Friend - Darkness: Any wine should always be stored in the dark. It should be away from direct sunlight or lighting fixtures installed in a room. Wine can acquire a peculiar taste and smell if it is exposed to UV light. Many times the glass used for making wine bottles is made with special UV filters that prevent UV rays from penetrating the bottle and spoiling the wine inside. However, it is not a full-proof protection method. It is always best to store the wine in a dark place. When it is completely unavoidable to keep the bottle in darkness, it's best to wrap it up in a thick cloth and place it in a box which would not allow direct sunlight to harm the wine.

Don't let the Corks Dry: The best way to store a wine bottle is in horizontal position. This allows the wine to touch the cork of the bottle, keeping the cork moist and preventing it from becoming brittle. It also blocks any open pores of the cork and doesn’t let too much air in that can spoil the wine. It's advisable to keep the label side of the bottle upwards so that any sediment in the bottle can be easily noticed from the transparent side. It also becomes easier to identify the bottles just by looking at the label.

Keep It Cool to Keep it Strong: The storage temperature of the wine should always be below 24°C (75°F). If the temperature rises above this, the wine begins to oxidise. The ideal temperature should be 12.2°C (54°F); even lower temperatures are good. The lesser the temperature the aging process slows down; and hence wine can be kept for longer period. Premature aging can also spoil the wine. The wine should be refrigerated if it is to be preserved for over one year. One important thing should be kept in mind that temperature fluctuations can cause harm to wines, especially red wines.

Avoid Movement to Keep it Pure: Wine should not be moved from its location unless unavoidable. The wine bottles should be kept at such a place that we do not need to move them while reaching a bottle to drink. Even any kind of vibrations or shaking may cause damage to the wine.

Keep It Humid: The humidity of the place where wine is stored should be about 70%. The cork of the wine bottle remains moist and evaporation is lessened at this humidity level. If the humidity is much over this level then mold formation is encouraged and even the label can get loose.

Store it Alone: All wines generally need to breathe. This breathing process can contaminate the wine if stored with some other things which have pungent smell. The wine can acquire the smell of the surroundings through the cork and may get tainted. Wine tends to remain unadulterated and would not get other smell when isolated.

Adjust Serving Temperature: Different kinds of wines are served at different temperatures. The temperatures at which they are served determine the taste of the wine; and hence, wines should be served when they attain the right temperature. Red wines should be served at around 15°C to 18°C where as serving temperature for white and rose wines should be 8°C to 12°C.

After Opening

While storing back an open bottle we should avoid exposing the wine to air. The cork should be tightly placed back on the bottle to prevent air penetration. A wine stopper that may be available in the market can also be used to close the opened bottle. The wine stopper also prevents the wine from contamination caused by its contact with air. We can also store an opened wine bottle in a wine cellar or a closet specially designed for wines.

If none of the above apparatus is available, the best alternative is a refrigerator. If the opened wine bottle is to be stored for up to three to five days, it could be kept just as it is after putting back the cork. However, we should try to avoid opening the refrigerator frequently and for longer period. Hence, it is ideal to use a separate refrigerator for storing wines, if possible.