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Before we begin talking about the proper ways to store your wine, we should probably expel a common myth: all wines are better aged. In actuality, most wines are best to be drank within a couple years of having been bottled—especially many of the new world, less-expensive brands. The wines that do benefit from aging, however, are well worth the risk of possible over-aging. To hold that bottle and know it may be one of the last, or celebrate with that one bottle you’ve been saving for years, holds a sense of speciality that can’t be replaced with a one-of-a-million, off-the-shelf bottles from the wine store that day.
To be realistic, if you are looking to store any wine for over a years’ time, it’s best to invest in professional storage, especially if this has turned into quite the collection. A good way of telling if it’s time to go pro is if a $1000 wine storing unit is less than a quarter of what you spent on last years’ tannic libations. But if you are keeping it simple and just want to know where to keep wine so it doesn’t turn while you are waiting to drink it, here are the keys you need to incorporate into its storage.
Temperature is a number one influencer on how fast that wine will age. The perfect temperature is around 54°F. Lower, and you are bound to slow the aging process. This means, storing wine in a fridge is only OK for up to two months, and if kept at a colder temperature, the liquid could expand enough to push out the cork. Hotter temperatures, above 70°F quicken aging and can cause oxidization. Too hot storage spaces are definitely a quick way to ruin a good wine. Also, be aware of temperature swings; ideally, you won’t want the temperature changing more than 3°F per day. Anything more could cause the wine to expand and contract which could push out the cork or lead to seepage. But note, just because a wine has seeped, doesn’t mean it’s ruined—it could still be a perfectly good wine, so don’t toss it! Can’t find a closet or basement that is cool enough and regulated enough to store it? Then it might be time to invest in a wine fridge or temperature protected storage cabinet.
Ultra-violet rays from the sun have also been known to cause wine to degrade and prematurely age it. This is why conventional vintners have used coloured glass (which acts like sunglasses) for bottling. Keeping the wine away from direct sunlight is an obvious way to avoid this problem, but if we want to get serious, a subtle switch from fluorescent to incandescent light bulbs will slightly reduce UV exposure.
It has often been preached by wine connoisseurs that a humidity index of 70% is preferable in order to keep corks moist. Dry corks can lead to wine over-breathing and becoming oxidized—but unless you live in desert like conditions, this should not be a problem. As most wines are bottled with plastic or glass corks and screw tops, high humidity could only serve to damage labels. Getting a little too humid in your storage space? A simple dehumidifier will keep those labels intact.
Vibrations are another conventional tale that wine snobs alike will say is bad for your wine; while shaking is not recommended, there is no evidence supporting that subtle vibrations will have adverse chemical reactions on your wines. Old wines may have a sediment that could be moved around causing a gritty taste once drank, but to actually damage the wine itself is quite unlikely. Unless you live above a rock concert hall, it’s not a situation you need to plan around.
Storing wines sideways will help prevent those corks from getting dry, but as stated earlier, it’s rare to see a good ol’ cork. . . cork, nowadays. Other than saving space, storing wines sideways when they have plastic, glass or screw top seals, is harmless, but not necessary.
Although Big Box Storage doesn't offer wine storage as a service, there are plenty of great wine storage options in California!