Wine Storage Tips from an Expert
Understanding proper wine storage helps determine the wine rack or wine cabinet that's right for you.
We wanted to get expert advice on the Do's and Don'ts of wine storage, so we contacted sommelier Jake Hafner, of St. Louis, Mo. He was kind enough to let us in on some of his sommelier secrets for storing wine at home.
Store Wine Horizontally
When it comes to storing wine, let it lie. Whether white or red wine, select a wine rack
or wine cabinet
that accommodates the bottles of wine lying on their side. This allows the cork to maintain moisture and the sediment to collect on the bottom of the bottle.
Showcase Your Handsome Wine Rack or Wine Cabinet
Of course, you will want to display your new, beautiful wine rack or wine cabinet in a prominent place in the home. But when selecting the location of your focal point, keep two key environmental factors in mind: light and temperature.
Protect Wine from Light
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Even if it isn't warming your wine bottle to the touch, direct sunlight can be detrimental to your wine. This exposure will result in a change or loss in the flavor. If you have your heart set on displaying your wine in a sunny room, there are many wine cabinets or wine storage racks that can help reduce the exposure to direct sunlight.
Control the Wine's Temperature
Keep things cool. Ideally, you want to store your wine between 55 and 57ºF. Why? Heat affects the aging of wine by maturing it faster. If the wine matures too quickly, the fruit will develop a different taste and possibly lose its flavor.
Unable to keep things cool, but still want to store and display your wine? We have a solution for you. Don't aim for long-term storage if warmer temperatures are unavoidable. Select and store wine you plan to enjoy in six months or less. And be sure to chill both red and white wines before serving. Even a red wine should be brought down from room temperature to 60 degrees before serving.
The Best Places to House Your Wine Rack or Wine Cabinet
Select an area of the home for your wine storage that will remain under 70ºF and not experience wide temperature fluctuations. Temperature variations may cause the cork to expand and contract, letting air into the bottle. The wine can become oxidized under these conditions.
Strive for balance in your humidity levels. High-level humidity can cause deterioration of the wine labels. Low-level humidity can cause the cork to shrink, and oxidize the wine.
Re-Storing Wine after the Party
Even though you may have put a good dent in your wine collection, after a party there may be an opened bottle or two you would just hate to throw out. Save the wine with a vacuum seal and store it in the refrigerator. Store vertically. If bottles are positioned on their sides, you run the risk of leakage; plus, keeping the cork moist by storing horizontally is more for long-term storage, not short term. Note: some wines will not store well after being opened, while others may be good from one to three days. Some wines hold up well for a few days and others deteriorate quickly... so drink up and don't waste.
What's a Sommelier?
It's French for wine steward. Our wine storage expert, Jake Hafner, is a certified sommelier through the International Wine Center in New York and the American Sommelier Association.
What's the difference between cork, synthetic cork and screw cap wines?
Wine storage depends a great deal on how the wine was bottled. You will find cork, synthetic cork and screw cap bottles of wine. Cork is the traditional method for sealing. Corked bottles, as well as synthetic corked bottles, should always be stored on their sides.
In recent years some great wines have come out with a screw cap. Screw caps give wineries more control over environmental factors, while corked wines may develop an odor. The culprit is a chemical called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole or TCA, which causes wines to pick up a dank, moldy, wet cardboard left-in-your-basement smell. You won't get sick from consuming a corked wine with TCA, but once your nose picks it up it makes the wine terribly unpleasant to consume. A screw cap better ensures that the wine will arrive at your table the way it was intended, since screw cap seals are less affected by environmental factors than cork sealed bottles.
But no matter how your favorite bottles of wine are sealed, savor the flavor by following Jake's wine storage tips.