7 Ways You Could Be Storing Your Wine Wrong
Most of the time, we buy wine to drink right away. But sometimes there are bottles that we would like to save for later. A daughter’s wedding, a milestone birthday, a golden wedding anniversary- these occasions are definitely worth saving your best wines for. But sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry especially when your wine storage techniques are not up to snuff. Here are some ways you could be doing more harm than good to those precious bottles in your collection:
- Keeping your wine upright. Yes, with most wines with screw top caps, this is not a big deal. But with a traditional cork closure, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Keeping the bottles in a vertical position for an extended period of time will dry out the cork. When this happens, the cork shrivels up — allowing oxygen to enter the bottle. Oxidized wine on your romantic anniversary? I wouldn’t advise it. So make sure your wines are kept horizontally to keep the cork moist and the wine in tiptop condition.
- Putting them by the window or any place that gets a lot of light. Light, specifically sunlight, is one of wine’s greatest enemies. Imagine keeping your wine in long-term storage exactly where the sun hits it. The UV rays can actually degrade and age your wine prematurely. If you look at most wine bottles, you will notice that they are all colored or dark. These bottles act like sunscreen for the precious liquid it holds inside. It keeps the wine from coming into contact with too much light. Now, household lights and bulbs will probably not cause as much damage right away but they can also cause wine labels to fade. This doesn’t affect the quality of the wine but makes the bottle look old and unappealing. In general, incandescent bulbs emit smaller amounts of UV light and are a much more desirable choice than fluorescent ones.
- Keeping them too long. There are wines that get better with age but there are wines that do not. These wines are meant to be drunk as soon as they are bought while they are still fresh, zesty and fruity. For instance, wines like Beuajolais Nouveau or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should be consumed within a year or two after release, not a decade after. Do yourselves a favor and check your stash to make sure you are able to enjoy wines such as these at their peak.
- Storing them in the fridge for months. Keeping wines in your trusty refrigerator is actually not a bad idea…for a short period of time, that is. It is not meant to keep your wines in good condition for months on end. Usually, the average temperature of a household refrigerator is below 45F. It safely stores food items but the lack of moisture in this environment can dry corks out. Again, a dried up cork will shrink and eventually allow oxygen into the wine bottle. Oxygen + Wine = not a good combination. Sometimes temperature in the fridge becomes too cold. When this happens, the wine could expand to the point that it pushes the cork out. Now, that is something you really don’t want to happen.
- Keeping them in a warm place. I have seen this too many times in homes with old-fashioned bars that act like liquor cabinets. The bottles are stored in the dark, all locked up inside this hot and humid closet. Remember, heat is another major enemy for wines. Any temperature higher than 70F will age wine more quickly than desired. And if it gets even hotter than that, you end up with “cooked” wine. This results in wine with flat aromas and zero flavor.
- Too much or too little humidity- Ideally, wines should be stored at theideal humidity of 70%. Drier than that and the cork will dry out. Of course, this is very rare (unless you live in the desert or the arctic). 50-80% humidity is generally considered safe for wine storage. Damper conditions will promote mold. This may not have a direct effect on a properly sealed bottle of wine but it can damage the labels, which will make the wine bottles look less than perfect (not good for wines meant as investment). Buying a dehumidifier can remedy this problem.
- Moving them around constantly- Unless you live beside a railroad, this is probably the least of your concerns. But there are theories that too much vibration or movement could damage wine in the long term by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. To be safe, just avoid moving your wine around from one area of the house to the other. The less the disturbance, the better your wine will keep.
One way to ensure that your wines are kept in the most ideal conditions is to turn them over to the care of experts. In Asia, fine wine collectors have countless options and one of them is Singapore Wine Vault (SGWV). In SGWV, bottles are kept in climate controlled, insulated, secure and state of the art cellars. Wines are also insured to guarantee full replacement value for any damage or loss in the event of unfortunate incidents (e.g. fire). With all these worries taken care of, you can sit back, relax and wait until you are ready to enjoy that perfect bottle at the perfect time.