Storing Wine - Know Your Enemies

Wine has a history of thousands of years and is now enjoyed worldwide. Most people store wine in racks in their kitchen, however if you have an expensive bottle of fine wine more care should be taken. Like food, wine is perishable and understanding how to store wine correctly is vital for it to age well. The first important factor to know is that wine does have enemies. They are heat, light, oxygen, low humidity and also vibration.

Before Opening
All wines should be stored away from UV light as this will damage the wine. The storage area should be dark, as ultraviolet light causes degradation of stable organic compounds found in wine thus affecting the aroma, flavour and structure of the wine. Dark bottles are better protected against UV rays and some bottles do have UV filters built into the glass, but UV rays can still penetrate to spoil the wine. If you cannot store wine out of contact with UV light, then the bottle can be wrapped in cloth for protection, however this will not produce best results.

Corked bottles should always be stored on their sides. The reason for this is that the corks can dry out if wine is stored upright. Oxygen is the worst enemy for wine and if the cork dries out it will shrink and allow oxygen into the bottle.

Storing the wine on its side will keep the cork moist and preserve the air tight seal for a considerable amount of time. For extremely long periods of time, a humidity controlled storage environment will be needed to prevent the cork from drying out.

Ideally you want to store wine at a temperature between 44 and 54F. Wine does not react well to changes in temperature and in modern day homes central heating and air conditioning does not help. There are climate control units available for optimum storage temperatures and humidity. If a climate control unit is out of the question it is not a problem. The most important thing is that the temperature is kept constant and to make sure of this a thermometer will in your cellar will allow you to monitor this. Another important factor related to temperature is humidity.

Humidity levels should be well above 50%, this will help keep the cork seal tight and prevent the wine from evaporating.

Once you have laid your bottle down for storage try not to move it until its time to consume. Any movement or even vibrations can affect the wine. Also insure that there is good ventilation as wine breathes and if stored with anything else with a strong smell this can taint the wine.

Remember that not all wines improve with age; in fact most inexpensive shop-bought wines deteriorate with age. Therefore, before storing your wine found out how long it should be stored for.

After Opening
Depending on the type of wine you have you can maintain its quality once the bottle has been opened.

White wine should be kept refrigerated with the cork on the bottle as firm as possible. If the bottle of wine is going to be stored for any longer than 4 days it is recommended that a wine stopper and pump is used to clear the bottle of oxygen and prevent oxygen from coming in contact with the wine.

Once red wine has been opened, simply place the cork back into the bottle and store in a dark place. This will only last for a couple days.

Storing Options
The obvious option is to have a wine cellar with climate control, this way all you have to do is place your bottle of wine on the rack and the dark undisturbed environment will do the rest.

If a custom built wine cellar is out the question any dark place could be an alternative, the attic, basement or a corner of a room. The only problem with this is the changes in temperature in most modern day homes; therefore it is important to avoid storing wine in a place subject to temperature change. To maintain humidity you can place a bowl of water in the area you are storing wine.

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About The Author, Johnmce
A Spiral Cellar is a pre-cast concrete wine cellar designed for installation in the home. Spiral Cellars create the perfect wine storage conditions in your home, a must for wine enthusiasts.