White wine, red wine, rosé wine – dry, semi-dry, sweet, and the obligatory champagne to be ready for any occasion; everyone should already have a good selection of wines at home. That said, there is, of course, the question of correct storage. Indeed, storing wine is not so easy, and it can be spoiled if it is not stored correctly.
Wine is a constant evolution product: even after bottling, it continues to ferment slowly, ripen and lose its freshness. Every wine has an ideal moment to drink it. In the case of fruity white wine, it can be shortly after fermentation in the steel vat, and in the case of a strong Barolo (red wine), it can be 25 or 30 years after bottling.
Lying Down or Standing Up?
Should wine bottles stay flat? This, is the fundamental question that many people ask. Even if this question seems close-ended, the answer to it is not only yes or no. It, instead, depends mainly on the type of wine and how the bottle is sealed. The reason why wine is stored horizontally is primarily due to its closure. If a bottle with natural cork is stored upright for years, the cork becomes dry, brittle, and porous. The wine starts to oxidize and begins to run. The fact that it is horizontal ensures that the cork remains moist and therefore impermeable.
On the other hand, wines that do not have a natural cork stopper can easily be stored upright. However, most of these wines have no particular aging potential; in any case, storage for more than three to five years makes no sense for them.
However, an exception to the cork rule is sparkling wine: it should always be stored upright so that it has an as little surface area as possible in the bottle, and carbon dioxide cannot escape. It is precisely this carbon dioxide that keeps the cork sufficiently moist, even at rest.
For good storage, it is above all important that the temperature in the storage room remains constant. There are often temperature fluctuations between 5 degrees in winter and more than 20 degrees in the basement compartments of apartment buildings in summer. No wine can withstand this in the long term. A year-round temperature of around 14 degrees would be ideal.
Consider Lighting Too
Should wine bottles be kept in the dark? Yes, in the long term. Why? Because light causes the wine’s aroma to change, one of the reasons is that red wine is mainly sold in dark bottles. A wine stored in a flat’s living room receives too much light to keep its quality for more than a few months.
Humidity and Vibrations Are Crucial
Two more factors can have a lasting effect on storage: humidity and vibrations. When it comes to moisture, it’s mainly corks, which dry out if the humidity is too low and can get moldy if the humidity is too high. Around 60% humidity would be ideal, but it is often difficult to achieve without a humidifier and hygrometer.
Regular vibrations ensure that the wine sediment, which arises over time, is shaken, and so-called shaking depots are produced. This affects the maturation of the wine and can negatively affect the taste. Therefore, a storage room that also has, for example, a washing machine and a dryer is extremely unsuitable.
We understand that being able to meet all these conditions can be a real problem. But, if you don’t have your wine cellar, you can use wine coolers, which offer ideal conditions. The crystals are darkened, the humidity is controlled, and the temperature is maintained at the perfect level. However, you should think carefully about the storage space’s size before you buy it, as the units consume a lot of electricity, so you should use the storage space to the maximum. A half full wine fridge would simply be a waste.
Do you have any other useful tips for storing wine bottles? Leave them in the comments below!