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The Best Advice You Could Ever Get About Wine Storage And Preservation

The Best Advice You Could Ever Get About Wine Storage And Preservation

Wine Storage and Preservation: Right Management Practices to Ensure Great Taste

Although wine is considered to be an alcoholic beverage, alcohol is not its main component and therefore does not protect it and keep it stable as it does in case of brandies. The quality of wine depends on the stability of all of its components and the number one factor that compromises its stability is poor wine storage. In this article, detailed instructions, and guidelines about the storage and preservation of wines will be discussed. So, that everyone can enjoy, great, fresh, and original taste. 

Wine Storage

Why is it so important to store wine properly

Selection and implementation of the right care and management practices are key factors to ensure long term wine storage and preservation without any negative effect on its quality, freshness, and taste. There are many practices of storing wine, but owners should think of selecting the right choice and right place according to the kind of wine. Most bottled wines do not have an expiration date. The components such as alcohol, tannins, acidity and sugar level are all in charge of keeping your wine delicious for a long period of time. It is very important to inform yourself about the readiness for consumption and the ageing potential of the wine during the buying process. Some of the wines are ready for consumption as soon as they reach the market, whilst others might take a couple of months or even years to reach their full drinking potential. This is due to the fact that wines of different styles age differently.

Proper wine storage is equally important for all of the wine styles and here are some examples why:

  • Light wines (white, rose) that are ready for consumption as soon as they enter the market have a very fragile structure. If not stored properly, they easily lose their main attributes within six months. With proper storage conditions, which do not allow them to mature fast, they will retain aromas, flavours and acidity levels for at least two years.  
  • Medium and Full-body wines usually have a greater ageing potential and storing them improperly might spoil them before they even reach 1% of their full beauty. Proper storage allows your powerful whites and reds to mature slowly and gradually adds to the complexity and richness of their bouquet and palate. 
  • Sweet wines like Tokaj or Sauternes, are produced to be aged for at least a couple of years, sometimes decades and in rare occasions even a century (check 100 year old Tokaj wines). The high level of  both residual sugar and acidity is what keeps them alive for this long, but without proper storage they will lose the acidity and become dull in just a couple of months. 

Keeping Wine Cool 

Hot weather and heat are the topmost enemy of wine. Temperature greater than 70 F can cause significant aging of wine in a shorter time. If the temperature gets hotter than this point, then it will cause direct cooking of the wine resulting in flat flavors and aromas. Wine should be stored between the ideal temperature range of 45-65° Fahrenheit. 

Temperature conditions in the wine storage should be stable and constant and a greater level of fluctuation should be avoided. Maintenance of stable temperature acts like a holy grail for the wine storage and is the most important requirement to store the wines. The maximum and minimum temperature conditions in storage should be regularly monitored by using a thermometer. Temperature fluctuation is directly related to oxygen and air contents in the wine. With the increased temperature the air in the bottle expands so, it may cause direct moving of cork in an outward direction. 

Whereas, wine contents will contract at a cooler temperature and will draw oxygen and air to the bottle. In this way, temperature fluctuations may cause evaporation of wine and resultantly flavor will be oxidized. Moreover, it may cause ullage seen and low filling level in the older wines. Furthermore, repeated temperature fluctuation and cycling also affect the freshness of the wine, so temperature fluctuations both in terms of frequency and magnitude should be greatly controlled. Even a daily based fluctuation of about 3° Fahrenheit can cause great damage to the wine taste, freshness, and composition, so, excellent and regular management should be top priority to avoid any serious concerns. 

Keep Storage Temperature Cool but not too cold 

Wines can be stored in the home refrigerators for a few months, but this type of storage is not a good idea on a long term basis. The average temperature in the fridge may fall below 45° as this is the most widely preferred temperature for the storage of perishable foods. As moisture contents are lacking at this temperature, so it may cause eventual drying out of the corks. Resultantly, there will be air seepage to the bottles and wine quality will be damaged. Also, the storage of wines at freezing temperatures should be avoided (in the freezers, and unheated places at home). If wine liquid is converted to the ice, it will experience expansion and will push the cork away. 

Don’t Expose Wine to Light 

Sunlight and other kinds of lighting conditions can cause potential negative changes in the wine, especially if it is exposed to light on a long-term basis. Ultraviolet rays of sunlight are extremely harmful for the wine and may cause degradation and premature aging. Vintners are using colored glass bottles with the main purpose to protect wine from direct exposure to light. It can be said that the use of these colored bottles of glass is acting like sunglasses for wine and offers significant protection. 

The short wavelengths of light can break complex molecules in the wine that in turn will directly affect the flavor and wine composition. This problem can be greatly avoided by the storage of wine in the specific glass that does not allow the passage of ultraviolet rays to the wine. Dark-colored and good quality glass can absorb most of the light and will protect the wine. However, direct exposure of this glass to sunlight should also be avoided. 

Whereas, the light of bulbs in the household may not cause direct harm to the wine, but it will cause fading of the labels. However, the use of Incandescent light bulbs is the safest option as compared to the fluorescent bulbs as it causes the emission of a smaller level of ultraviolet light rays. 

Humidity Management 

Ideally, the humidity level for wine storage should be 70% as dry air causes drying of corks that in turn can move air to the bottles and wine will be spoiled. Necessarily, people do not have to strictly maintain the level of 70% humidity, but any condition between 50-80% is a safe option. Moreover, the placement of a water pan in the storage place is also a good approach to maintain the required level of humidity. However, the prevalence of damp conditions should be avoided as it can cause mold growth. Although, this mold and fungus development will not directly affect the sealed wine, but still it will create a mess in the storage place and external conditions of the storage bottles especially labels will be greatly affected. This problem can be tackled by using a good quality dehumidifier. 

Storage Direction 

Traditionally, the storage of wine bottles is in such a way that liquid is maintained in a direction against the bottle cork as it keeps the cork safe from drying. If the wine bottles will be used in a short time, then the use of alternative closures such as plastic or glass corks, or screw caps is not much necessary. For this purpose, horizontal racking is a good and space-efficient way to store the wine bottles, as it will not cause any kind of damage to the wine. 

Avoid Shaking 

Many scientific studies have proven that vibration caused by shaking may damage the wine quality as it causes the acceleration of chemical reactions in the wine. Some collectors have reported that even subtle vibration from electronic devices can also cause a significant negative impact on wine quality. These vibrations cause disruption of various sediments in the old wines and affect their settling so the wines can be turned as unpleasantly gritty. 

Ideal Place to Store Wine 

Wine storage does not always require expensive solutions, but it can also be efficiently and effectively stored in the simple racks. However, the direct placement of this rack in the kitchen, boiler room, or laundry should be avoided. Furthermore, there should not be direct interference of light in the storage area. Other than storage racks, small coolers are also an excellent choice for wine storage. 

Even vacant storage places, and less used closets can also be used as a storage place for wine. Any place that is not too damp, dark, dry, or warm can be considered and managed as a standalone wine unit for storage. Inexpensive and good systems are also available for smaller spaces, but this is not an ideal choice for the professional and long-term storage. 

Wine Coolers for Wine Storage 

Wine coolers are standalone and basic units that are specifically designed for the maintenance of consistent temperatures and are also excellent options for long term storage. Other than the wine coolers, wine cellars are also excellent choices for wine storage at the optimal conditions. Their special designing allows the control of specific temperature and humidity, along with excellent protection from sunlight, shaking, and vibration. 

Keep Wine Away from Strong Odors 

As the cork of wine bottles is a porous structure, so with time, there will be the absorption of air and odors to wine. Some odors may not significantly cause the problem, but some odors associated with volatile chemicals can greatly cause the problem. So, wine should not be stored along with the cleaning solutions, fresh paint, garlic, onions, and other aroma producing foods.

Also, wine quality is influenced by the presence of odors in its surrounding, so wines should be kept away from the kitchen. The breathing of wine from its cork has been scientifically proven, so its direct placement next to the foods and trash should be avoided. As cork is a spongy substance so the penetration of odor is very easy from the cork and it will directly affect the wine quality. Preferably the storage area for wines should be closet or dark space at home so that the entry of potential contaminants to the wine can be avoided. 

Preservation of Opened Bottles 

Most of the time it may happen that users cannot consume a whole bottle of wine, and they have to store it for use at another time. But improper handling and storage can destroy the wine, and penetration of oxygen may turn wine to vinegar. So, before preservation, it is essential to make sure that wine is not exposed to light, air, heat, odors, and any adverse conditions. 

Usually, the wines are used in a chilled state but putting them open in the fridge is an instinctive approach. However, bottles can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, as cooler temperatures cause a slow down of chemical reactions. In this situation, minimized oxidation is key to wine preservation for a few days. The use of a professional wine preservation system is greatly helpful to store opened bottles for longer periods. 

The use of a vacuum pump helps to suck all the air out of the opened bottle and resealing will be greatly helpful to protect wine from oxygen. This is a cost-effective and affordable option and is being used in bars and restaurants. Other than this, an inert gas such as argon can also be inserted into the wine bottle. Argon is heavier gas than oxygen so it makes a protective layer on the wine surface.  

Storage Management in System Failure 

Any failure or fault in the storage system of wine may cause deleterious changes in wine composition and can destroy the whole storage. For this purpose, good checks and balances should be ensured about system maintenance to keep it in healthy working conditions. Storage conditions and the system should be regularly checked to overcome any troubles. Mostly system failure happens due to extreme environmental conditions, as it can directly stress, and affect the functionality of the system. 

Sometimes, the compressor of the cooling system may fail, but the indoor functioning of an indoor fan can cause superheating in the wine cellar and may increase the temperature to an unbelievable extent and will cause the cooking of wine. Wines at the residential places are more prone to damage due to system failure. Despite the investment of a huge amount of money for the alternative wine storage system, installment of redundancy to the system is a good option. Moreover, system health, wine storage, and wine condition should be regularly checked to avoid direct losses. 

In case of troublesome conditions of system failure, the problem can be greatly avoided by immediately contacting professionals to resolve the issues in the system. Mostly, the system manufacturers are providing an excellent quality system only, but before buying, buyers should be aware of the brand credibility, system performance, and used material to make that specific system. Manufacturers are also providing a list of service agents, so people can contact them to resolve the problem on an urgent basis. 

Furthermore, until the repair and maintenance of the system, the wine should be placed in the alternative storage or any refrigerator. But good care should be taken to regulate temperature, light, ventilation, and other conditions, as any mismanagement, may cause direct consequences.  




Bonus:

Storage and Service temperatures of Wine   

If you have a wine cooler or a wine cellar in which you keep your favorite drink, but would like to know more about the perfect storage and service temperature, here are a few tips:



Storage temperature:

The ideal temperature for storing wine ranges from 45° F to 65° F, with 55° F being a perfect middle ground. Most white, rose and sparkling wines are ideally stored at the lower part of this 45° to 65° range, Sherry and light reds are going for the middle, and as we go towards the more powerful reds and Port, the temperature is allowed to climb as far as up to 65° F.    


Service temperature:

In order to fully enjoy a bottle of wine, it is recommended that you serve it at a temperature that suits its character and helps it show its full potential. For years room temperature was considered a perfect one, for a wine to be served. Unfortunately, the air-conditioning and central heating have made the room temperature either too cold or too hot for the wine service. Here are some tips and information on how to serve it cold enough.      




Style of wine

Example of the style of wine

Service temperature

Light white wines

Pinot Grigio, NZ Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Fino Sherry, Austrian Riesling, 

Chilled 

45-50° F (10-13° C)

Medium and full-bodied oaked white wines 

White Burgundy, Fume Blanc, California Chardonnay, Australian Chardonnay, 

Slightly chilled 

50-55° F (10-13° C)

Sweet wines

Sauternes, Eiswein, Tokaj

Ice cold 43-45° F (6-8° C)

Sparkling wines

Champagne, Cava, Asti, Sekt

Ice cold  

43-50° F (6-10° C)

Light red wines, Shery 

Beaujolais, Valpolicella, 

Oregon Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, 

Slightly chilled 

55° F (13° C)

Medium and full-bodied red wines

Red Bordeaux, Rioja, Australian Shiraz, Barolo, Amarone, Tawny and Vintage Port, Rhone valley, 

59-64° F (15-18° C)



There is no need to adjust the entire white/red wine section in your cooler, just to get that one bottle ready for service. Here are a couple of cool tips: 

-       Chill your light white wines for half an hour in a kitchen fridge before opening the bottle. 

-       Medium and full-bodied white wines can be opened and served straight from the cooler. 

-         Put your sparkling and sweet wine in the freezer for 45 minutes before serving it and make sure you serve it along with an ice bucket! (This way the bubbles are kept for a longer time). 

-       Cool Down your light red wine for 20 to 30 minutes in a kitchen fridge before opening it. 

-       Medium and full-bodied reds are usually served at a temperature around 60° F, which is accomplished by leaving the bottle out of the wine cooler for 15 to 30 minutes.*


*Powerful red wines such as Bordeaux, Rioja, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Californian Cabernet, Barolo, etc. deserve to be decanted at least one hour before their consumption, to be allowed to breathe. This adds to their overall quality and complexity. Leave the wine in a dark place which has a room temperature and then put it into the kitchen fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving it. You can put a transparent cloth above the decanter to make sure dust and other stuff can not enter and spoil your wine.  

If you are looking for help solving your wine storage Contact Wine Cellar HQ today, and let us help you find the best solution to protect your collection.

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