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How to Store Wine

by Warrick Steabben on October 7, 2014

It’s a gigantic disappointment when, upon opening up a bottle of wine that you’ve been saving for a few months—even years—you find yourself drinking a flat-tasting, colourless and bodyless beverage the flavour of which barely even resembles wine. Think of how embarrassing it would be go through the motions of serving a nice bottle to guests or customers and facing that! To make matters worse, this kind of thing happens all the time. However, it doesn’t have to. Although most wines don’t actually improve through bottle aging, under the right storage conditions, they can last for quite a long time. What you need are the proper storage conditions.

Wine Cellar
Wine Cellar

Mind the Temperature

Nothing kills a wine quite as effectively as heat or freezing. That’s why 16°C is the perfect temperature to store wine, but going more than five degrees or so in either direction can cause the flavour molecules in the wine to degrade quickly, and in a matter of weeks to months, what was once a complex wine will reduce to an ugly mess. If you want your wine keep its quality, you have to make sure it stays cool and doesn’t experience swings in temperature.

Cellars have always been the ideal place to store wine exactly for this reason. Not only is it cooler underground, but the soil and stone are impeccable insulators, so the temperature in a cellar stays fairly consistent throughout the year. If you don’t have access to a cellar, cooling units are the best choice, but for most purposes, a cabinet safe from direct heat and sunlight works fine.

It Doesn’t Need a Tan

The sun is the next biggest danger to wine. The energy from sunlight breaks down the substances that give wine its flavour, just as extreme heat does. Ultraviolet light is particularly damaging, and while dark glass can filter out a lot of UV, it doesn’t get rid of all of it. Keep your wine in the dark! Generally speaking, white wines are more sensitive to sunlight than red wines are, but neither benefits at all from sunlight, so don’t expose them to it.

On the Side

You should store wine bottles on their sides rather than standing up. That way, the cork is always in contact with the wine, which keeps the cork moist. A dry cork will break down and crumble into the wine. Let it get dry enough, and the cork won’t even keep the bottle airtight. It will let oxygen get into the bottle, which will dull the wine’s colour and spoil its flavour. Of course, wine can’t stay in peak condition forever. The only 100% foolproof way to ensure that your wine is enjoyed is to actually drink it!

Interested in knowing more about wine and how to work with it? Consider a bartending course at RSA Melbourne. Knowing the ins and outs of wine service can be a great help to anyone, even people who aren’t planning a career in the hospitality business.