Some people spend thousands of dollars on wine coolers or storage units to store their wines and others keep it on the kitchen counter next to the flour and sugar. Which technique is best? They both allow for the consumer to enjoy their bottle of wine, which is good for the consumer. But actually, neither may be best for the good of the wine. A lot of fancy, expensive wine storage units may have great temperature controls, but they may also have windows or access to light that could hurt a bottle. A bottle of wine sitting on the counter may be fine, or it could be slowing losing its natural flavors because of a house’s temperature or lighting conditions.
Here’s some key things to keep in mind when storing wine:
- Temperature: Wine is best when it’s stored between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn’t have to be exactly in this range, but major fluctuations in temperature should be avoided. White wine is usually stored cooler, between 45 and 55 degrees, while red can withstand more heat between a range of 55 and 65 degrees. (This trend holds for serving temperatures, too. Reds should be served between 65 and 75 degrees and whites should be served at temperatures between 45 and 55.) If wine isn’t served in these ranges, it doesn’t mean that it’s undrinkable. But the natural flavors and aromas may be flatter or less apparent when served at either colder or warmer temperatures.
- Humidity: This isn’t usually a problem, but wine usually does best in conditions between 40 and 60 percent humidity, which is in the normal ranges of households. Drier conditions can start to dry out the cork and allow air into the bottle, messing with the wine’s natural flavors and oxidation. Extremely moist or humid situations can cause mold, which usually just affects the outside of the bottle – but who wants to drink liquid from a moldy bottle?
- Bottle placement: Sideways is best as it allows any sediment or particles to naturally settle along the side of the bottle, which helps keep those pesky particles out of the wine when the time comes to pour it into a glass. And traditionally, storing a bottle on its side helped keep the cork moist so it wouldn’t dry out and damage the contents of the bottle (wine).
- Light: Store wine in dark or low-light conditions. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can actually age wine over extended periods. Household lights aren’t too bad on the wine itself, but they will fade the bottle labels over time. If storing under lights, try using incandescent instead of fluorescent bulbs to reduce the chances of aging the wine.
For more tips, check out Wine Spectator’s basics to storing wine.