Posted on Mar 30, 2015
How to Create Proper Wine Storage
Whether wine is going to be stored for a few days or a few years, proper wine storage is essential. Although wine can improve with age, it can also deteriorate quite rapidly if it is stored in inadequate conditions. Improper wine storage can lead to adverse chemical reactions, leading to a variety of wine faults.
Proper wine storage begins with a suitable environment. The most important factors in storing wine are light, humidity, temperature and vibration. Strong direct light, especially sunlight, can have an adverse effect on the phenolic compounds in wine, causing the quality to degrade and prematurely age. Delicate white wines are at the highest risk of this negative effect, particularly those bottled in clear, light green or light blue colored bottles. Direct sunlight can also fade the labels on expensive bottles of wine.
Wine is highly susceptible to variations in temperature, with heat being wine’s number one enemy. A constant temperature between 50°F and 59°F is an ideal environment for wine. Temperatures higher than 70°F can “cook” wine, causing tainted flavors and flat aromas. Conversely, temperatures too cold can cause wine to freeze and expand, making the cork to pop out. A humidity level of 70% is the best for wine; lower humidity levels can cause the cork to dry out and allow air into the bottle, spoiling the wine. Wine should also be stored in a way that it experiences minimal vibration. Climate-controlled environments, such as underground wine cellars or basement wine caves, are ideal for long-term aging.
The traditional way to store wine is on its side, and most wine racks are set up this way. This keeps liquid against the cork to prevent it from drying out. Some wine racks and packaging will position the bottle at a downward angle for this same reason. The opposite is true for champagne and sparkling wines, which should be stored upright, rather than on their sides. This is because of the carbonation; the trapped carbonic gas provides humidity and protection from oxygen.
Creating a suitable environment and properly positioning the bottle are key to proper wine storage. Wine connoisseurs with an extensive and expensive wine collection will benefit most from having a professionally built wine cellar. An experienced wine cellar designer and builder will be able to create an ideal environment for wine storage.