Don't like pouring money down the drain? Wine Storage. It matters.
A friend of mine had been “saving “a few special bottles since the 1990’s to open on a grand occasion. In the summer of 2009 she decided the time had come. I watched her reach for the first bottle as it sat, upright (offense #1), on top of a shelf in her non-temperature-controlled kitchen (offense #2). My heart fell as she put the corkscrew into the bottle because I didn’t have to be psychic to know what was about to happen.
The wine was vinegar, and so was each bottle she opened that day. She cried as she poured thousands of dollars down the sink, not to mention the memories those bottles represented.
Time is funny. Some things we want to experience right now and some things we want to hold onto and experience later. Wine is one of the greatest examples of this kind of delayed gratification. Depending on the grape and the quality of the producer, wines can age for years or even decades, but only if you treat it with the respect it deserves.
If you purchase wine or are gifted wine with a quality cork and you want to AGE that wine, or “lay it down” to experience at a later date, please treat that wine like a newborn baby. You read that correctly.
Here are my four tips to properly age wine with a cork:
Remember S.T.L.V. (Side, Temperature, Light, Vibration).
1. The wine must be stored on its SIDE. Why?
To keep the cork in contact with the wine.
Remember, wine is a living thing and air is the friend and the foe of wine. Quality cork allows just the right amounts of oxygen to get into the bottle to mature the wine slowly, but too much oxygen will kill the wine completely. If you store the wine sitting straight up, the cork will inevitably dry out and split, and that wine will be worse than vinegar, trust me.
2. The wine must be kept at a cool and consistent TEMPERATURE.
Fluctuations in temperature can really disrupt all the science going on inside that bottle. Where you store the wine needs to be cool and STAY cool, ALL THE TIME.
I like to keep my bottles somewhere around 53 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 12 degrees Celsius). If you don’t have a wine cooler, use your kitchen fridge. Just remember to keep that wine on its side!
That said, investing in a small wine cooler that can hold a few (or a lot) of bottles can give you peace of mind and doesn’t have to break the bank.
3. Wines need to be stored away from too much LIGHT (example: the sun).
Light is another factor that can really affect the chemistry of a wine. I think we can all agree babies sleep better in a dark room. Same for your vino.
4. Store your wines away from VIBRATION.
Consider wine to be sound asleep in the bottle. Don’t put it on top of your fridge, washing machine, dryer, or anything else with movement or even occasional movement. I hate to be a broken record here but… because SCIENCE.
If you are in the market for a wine cooler, there are so many great options out there.
We have a 34- bottle wine cooler made by Haier that I have affectionately named Herman. Herman is a boss and keeps my reds, whites and bubbly bottles very happy.
It’s nice to know that if you choose to open a bottle tomorrow or for your anniversary five years from now, that wine will be everything you hoped it would be.
And that’s what a good wine is to me: It’s an expectation of a memory.