Most of us purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy right away but for those special wines that we want to cellar there are important rules for red and white wine storage to ensure your wines age well and increase in flavour and value.
Wine Storage Environment
Some winemakers have earned a reputation for creating wine worth aging, certain regions and certain type of wine age better than others, but the majority of wines on the market today are manufactured for immediate consumption and are not designed to age.
These wines are still of high quality and can be stored for 8 – 12 months or so without significant loss of quality as long as temperature, humidity and light of the area is considered. Though some wineries have earned a reputation for creating wine worth aging, additionally, certain regions and certain types of wine age better than others.
Temperature for Wine Storage
The ideal temperature to store wine is between 12-14°C. This temperature needs to remain constant all year round for optimal wine storage conditions. It is not recommended to store wine in the kitchen. This is one room in the house where the temperature can vary through out the day. That is when the oven or stove is on the temperature in the kitchen will heat up. If possible, the temperature should not fluctuate more than 2-3°C.
Heat can damage wine with wine show judge, Adam Walls, saying hot temperatures can cook the wine resulting in the wine losing its freshness. Heat can also compromise the seal of the wine which can lead to oxidation. Oxidation allows more air/oxygen into the wine. This can lead to wine evaporating leaving a low fill level and an oxidized flavor. Do not store wine in non insulated sheds or garages due to excessive fluctuations in temperatures. Avoid areas near heat sources such as heaters or electrical items that generate heat. Also high areas, such as on top of a cabinet, where hot air rises.
Wine Storage Humidity
Ideal wine storage conditions would maintain a 50% humidity level. That is humidity below about 50% is getting too dry and levels above 50% too damp. This maybe difficult to achieve. As long as the storage area has relative humidity levels ranging between 60-80% the wine should not spoil.
Dry conditions dry out the cork, causing it to shrink which can lead to oxidation. The majority of wine produced in Australia today are screw cap sealed. This alleviates the risk of the cork drying out. Wine storage areas that are too damp do not necessarily ruin the wine, it can lead to mold and mildew growing. This can ruin the storage area and wine labels.
Moreover, bottles with corks must be stored on their side. Screw caps can be stored in whichever way (standing up or lying down) suits you best.
Wine Storage in the dark
Do not store wine in direct sunlight. According to The Fine Wine Reserve although wine bottles are designed to protect the wine inside, UV light can break down the molecules that create the special flavors of a wine. This occurs more commonly in delicate white wines like Champagne, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Do not store wine on window sills or bench tops. If storing in wine racks ensure they are placed out of direct sunlight. Areas in the house such as under an internal staircase or the bottom shelf of a cupboard or pantry are better.
Wine Self Storage
Your average wine drinker need not be too concerned about climate controlled secure self storage areas for their wine collection if seeking short term storage options. Wine can be stored short term safely in a insulated storage facility. When moving home for example, wine can be stored in wine boxes and placed in your storage unit.
If storage is for an extended period of time, a climate controlled purpose built wine storage facility should be used. This is also the case for collectors and enthusiasts of wine storing and aging fine wines. These places ensure the temperature, humidity and light remain in the optimal range for your special collection.
What does Booze Brothers say about wine storage?
Booze Brothers Bottle Shops are filled with passionate wine enthusiasts and we asked them for some of their top tips on wine storage.
Booze Brothers Manager (at The Duck), Duane says “Wine should be checked and turned regularly. If possible, store red wine in a climate controlled environment like a cellar. Good reds can be stored for up to 10 years, if a wine reaches it’s optimum it will slowly decrease from it’s best potential so remember to drink at special occasions and enjoy the rewards of your cellaring.”
Want to learn more about wine and wine storage?
Hitsa Industry Training and Employment provide a short 2 day course, Provide advice on Australian wines. If you are working in the wine industry, hospitality or just enjoy wine as a personal hobby this course will further your knowledge on handling, storing and evaluating Australian wine products.