By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
If you want to serve wine at its best, you’ve got to store it properly. Fluctuating temperatures and direct sunlight can dramatically affect or change the composition of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, making it less drinkable. But you don’t have to convert your basement into a wine cave with custom shelving and a big wine refrigerator; instead, check out the common-sense tips below for how to store everyday wines to preserve their exquisite taste:
1. Understand that most wines are not meant to be cellared for long periods of time.
When a wine that’s meant to be opened within a few years of its vintage is kept in storage for too long, its personality may change—and not in a delicious way. Unless it’s a fine wine that’s meant to be aged, drink wines within two to three years of their vintage.
2. Rethink that hot attic.
Even if you’re planning to serve a recently purchased wine soon, be sure to store it in a cool, dark place. Ideally, keep wine at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take 10 degrees. According to the Wine Spectator, temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine more quickly and result in a flat flavor or aroma. Think about your home—could you store bottles in the back of a dark closet or a cool corner in the basement? Or would a small wine fridge be the best solution? Avoid setting up a wine rack above the kitchen refrigerator—the space will be too warm and disrupt the wine due to the vibrations of the fridge. Attics with their fluctuating temperatures are also a bad storage option.
3. Stay away from the light.
Just as too much heat is wine’s nemesis, so is too much light, whether natural or artificial. The Wine Spectator names sunlight, fluorescent bulbs, and UV lights as the worst offenders. An overabundance of light could compromise a wine’s quality, causing it to age more quickly.
4. Position some bottles upright.
Traditionally the correct way to store wine has been on its side to keep the wine against the cork to stay moist. (Unwanted oxygen may get into the bottle and change its color or flavor.) But these days that might not necessary. Bottles that come with screw tops or glass stoppers instead of corks can be stored upright.
5. Don’t worry about humidity.
The wine lovers who need to be concerned about finding a low-humidity place to store their bottles are serious collectors who intend to keep certain wines for many years. The average wine drinker who stores their wine in a cool temperature with limited light are off the humidity hook!