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10 Tips On Storing Wine At Home
Many factors come into play when storing your favorite wine at home. The steps taken to care for your bottles can have a direct effect on how good (or bad) it tastes. Some wines are intended for short-term storage while others improve over an extended period of time. These ten steps will help to assure your wine is stored properly to achieve the best flavor and aroma possible.
One of the most important facets of preserving wine is making sure it is not vulnerable to high levels of light. Not only can light be harmful to wine, but to other beverages such as beer and champagne. Overexposing wine to light can expedite the naturally occurring chemical reactions, allowing the wine to develop prematurely and therefore depleting the flavors and aromas. Using a lighting system with halogen bulbs that contain a UV protective coating will help prevent any UV damage from the light. Consider a system that uses a 12V/20W bulb and a polished aluminum reflector to assure there's not direct light to the bottles.
Storing wine in an area too warm can speed up the aging process which will deplete the production of flavors. Many times this is visually apparent when the color of your wine appears a brownish color due to oxidation from the heat. When a wine is chilled too cold, it loses its aromas and may possibly even freeze. Ideally, red wines should be stored at between 50-55 degrees F, while white wines are recommended to be stored at around 45 degrees F. This is easy to do with a dual zone wine cooler which allows for the storage of white or red wine at two different temperatures.
3. Keep Wine Still
Movement and vibration expedite the aging process of the wine, also depleting aroma and flavor. In red wine, the sediments separate naturally to disperse the different flavors. A static & vibration free environment prevents these sediments from mixing back into the wine. Wooden storage systems are recommended over metal systems because wood absorbs vibrations more efficiently, keeping wine still and preventing premature aging.
4. Placement: Vertical or Horizontal?
Most grocery stores stand wine bottles upright for the labels to be seen, yet what most people don't realize is that standing a wine bottle upright actually interrupts the aging process. The cork atop the bottle dries out and shrinks while standing vertical allowing oxygen to enter the bottle. While the cork breathes and allows a small amount of oxygen to correctly age the ingredients, too much will ruin the wine by oxidizing the ingredients and destroying the flavor. Keeping the bottle on its side will ensure the cork stays moist, expanding it so the bottle will retain the oxygen already embodied and breathe naturally. Placing your bottles on a wine rack will help ensure the proper aging and preservation of your wine.
Because corks breathe oxygen, wine can easily absorb smells and odors that surround it. Wine should be kept isolated, as far as possible from cheese, fruit, and vegetables, particularly in a wine cellar or cooler.
Keeping wine in an enclosed area such as a wine cooler requires a humidity level between 50% and 70%. Damp air from the humidity allows the cork expand and seal the bottle tight ensuring excessive oxygen is not emitted. A hygrometer is an inexpensive solution to monitoring humidity and allows you to adjust the humidity level to your preference. It is recommended not to turn humidity past 85% because this may cause molding to your wine bottle labels, rendering them unreadable and depreciating their value.
7. Storage Time
Most wines consumed over short time spans should usually be kept at between 70 - 75 degrees F, a margin similar to the temperature of wines kept in most retail stores. Inexpensive wines generally won't improve with time and are meant to be consumed more promptly. Depending on the sugar, acid, and tannins, red wine can be stored to age for nearly 2 years to a decade. White wines commonly age after 2-3 years of storage.
8. Serving Temperature
Wine temperature for serving is different per wine type, factoring in as well the temperature that the wine was being stored. Generally, these are the recommended temperatures in which to serve wine:
Blush, rose and dry white wines: 46 - 57 degrees F
Sparkling wines and champagne: 43 - 47 degrees F
Light red wine: 55 degrees F
Deep red wines: 59 - 66 degrees F
9. After Opening...
After opening your wine and enjoying a few glasses, you should cork it back up tightly to ensure minimal exposure to air, or purchase a wine stopper to cap it off. A wine cellar or cooler is recommended to store the wine, yet placing the bottle in the fridge will suffice. Red wine can generally be left out if you plan on drinking it within a few days, as long as it is kept away from high levels of heat and light. Most wines will avoid degrading for about 3-5 days depending on the quality.
10. Wine Gone Bad?
If you have a bottle that was left out and not stored properly, it won't have necessarily "gone bad", but instead simply lost its intended flavor. Keep the wine to use for cooking and baking purposes! Wine is actually a low-fat, high flavor alternative to cooking with butter or oil, and goes great with seafood, meats, or baking a cake.
Dual zone wine coolers are perfect for long or short term storage of your favorite wines. Setting the thermostat to each zone at a different temperature can help preserve a variety of wines.