Anyone who deals with wine will sooner or later be confronted with the issue of proper wine storage. In principle, the storage of wine is not magic. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to store your good bottles for years to come. Otherwise, the once sensational drop quickly becomes vinegar.
Only high quality wine is suitable for long storage
Time may stop all wounds, but it does not turn every wine into a noble drop. Only about five to ten percent of all wines are suitable for longer bottle aging. Even the most expensive wine climate control cabinet does not turn a Zechwein into a noble drop.
In addition, not all high-quality wines are suitable for prolonged storage. Low-tannin red wines and low-acid white wines should be drunk within the first two years of purchase, if possible.
Avoid temperature fluctuations
Wine is sometimes very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. If it is heated, it expands; if it cools, it contracts. The greater the temperature fluctuations, the greater the effect on the wine.
The tricky thing is that this effect pulls air (oxygen) through the cork. The inhaled oxygen allows the wine to oxidize faster and tilt.
Tip: The place with the most stable temperature in many apartments is in the bedroom. More precisely, under the bed. No kidding! Quite a few sleep over their cherished bottles and quite rightly so.
Wine wants to be stored in a cool place
The ambient temperature in which the wine is stored determines how quickly the wine ages. The warmer the storage temperature, the faster the wine succumbs to its vinegar death. In general, temperatures of 10 to 14 °C are considered the ideal storage temperature for white and red wines.
However, if you only want to store a few bottles for the upcoming family celebration, you can simply store them at room temperature.
UV light is poison for wine!
Light is probably the biggest killer of a good wine. However, we are not talking about candlelight or the light from standard light bulbs. UV radiation burns not only human skin. When it hits the wine, it sets off chemical reactions that turn even the best drop into an undrinkable liquid.
Representative wine refrigerators with glass doors for this reason have a special coating (similar to that of sunglasses) that block UV radiation. The dark glasses of the wine bottles provide additional protection against harmful UV radiation.
Store wine lying down or standing up?
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to store your wines lying down or standing up. Often you read arguments that the cork would dry out from the inside. However, the humidity inside the bottle is almost 100 percent, no matter how the wine is stored.
However, if the humidity is too low, the cork can dry out from the outside, shrink and air can get to the wine.
With artificial corks, screw caps or glass caps, the humidity of the storage place does not matter at all. Why then is wine often stored horizontally? Probably because it is easier to stack.
Humidity: 80% is considered ideal
This point only applies to wines that are still classically sealed with a natural cork. If the humidity of the storage facility is too low, the cork will dry out from the outside. This makes the cork smaller, wine can escape and oxygen gradually oxidizes the wine.
However, a too humid climate favors the formation of mold on the label and the outside of the cork. The mold then migrates from the outside, towards the wine and leaves an even unfriendly aroma. The wine spoils. A humidity of about 80% is considered ideal.
By the way, the relative humidity in living rooms is about 50-70% and depends on the season. If you want to store your wines openly in your living room, you can seal the capsules airtight with special sealing wax.
The fairy tale of freedom from vibration
Many a wine enthusiast begins to whisper when entering the wine cellar and sets his steps carefully and with deliberation. No shock, however small, should disturb the tranquility of the wine – not that it spoils with shock.
The reason often given for vibration-free storage is that (in the case of red wines) the deposit is stirred up by permanent vibrations and cannot settle. Stirred up sediment can make a wine taste dull, however, it takes more than a little shaking to stir up the sediment in the wine. If you are not storing your wine on a vibrating plate, you can tick off this point with confidence.
Avoid odor-intensive places
This point also applies only to wines that are stored for a very long time and have a natural cork closure. Cork is a relatively porous material, which is why it can absorb odors particularly well. However, the smell must already be permanent and penetrating in the air, like in a musty cellar.
For two years, the wine can also withstand being stored in the kitchen, as we found out in a self-experiment.
Wine storage is not witchcraft
Proper storage of wines is not difficult. Especially those who want to store wine only for a short time should not worry too much about the perfect storage place. If your own wines are sealed with artificial corks, screw caps or glass closures, the whole thing becomes even simpler. No UV light, not too warm storage (accelerated aging process) and temperatures as constant as possible – ready is the wine storage for the first wines.
However, if you want to store your wine, you should pay attention to perfect storage conditions. The time factor also increases the risk of minor storage defects. We will look at the different storage locations for long-term bottle ripening in a follow-up article.