Wines are alcoholic drinks that are made from the fermented juice of grapes. Yeast is added to the juice and it heats up the sugar present in the grapes. This is in turn converted to carbon dioxide, ethanol and heat.
There are a variety of grapes used for making wine as well as different yeast which results in different wine types. The variations come about as a result of a variety of factors. These include the environment where the grape was grown, the grape’s biochemical development, the fermentation process and how it is produced.
Although it is often made from grapes, wine can technically be made from other fruits such as plums, apples, cranberries, etc. However, if you see a bottle labeled just wine without a fruit appellation then it is made with grapes.
There are different variations of wine ranging from red to white, rose, sparkling, fruit, dessert and starch based ones. Each one is produced in a unique way to give it its color and taste. The most common of these though is the red variant.
Asides from grapes, wine typically contains other ingredients called additives. Most of these additives are safe and they are necessary because food products like wine are usually unstable. The additives help to stabilize and preserve it so that it lasts longer.
Some of these ingredients are referred to as finning agents. They are used to remove unwanted particles like tannins and tartrates. These finning agents are removed afterward when their work is done. A common additive used in wine is sulfite. This is used to preserve it from deterioration.
Other additives that may be present include sugar, yeast, finning agents like egg white, gelatin, pepsin, isinglass, etc. There are also acidifiers and de-acidifiers to control its pH balance and several others.
Good wine is oftentimes expensive. They are also relatively fragile and therefore require good storage. Various environmental factors such as vibrations, changes in temperature, light and humidity can affect its quality.
It can improve in flavor, quality as well as value when stored properly. However, it can rapidly deteriorate when it is kept in inadequate storage conditions. To this end, wine storage is something that is often given important considerations.
Historically, storage was typically handled by merchants and sommeliers. These days, consumers have taken measures to adequately store their wine.
From experience, wine ages and improve in quality when stored in certain conditions such as is obtained in underground cellars. This means that it is wise to replicate such conditions as much as possible wherever you are storing yours.
There are storage companies that can help to store your wine under the right conditions. If you are reselling and need to store them in large quantities, it may be best to use them. If you have them just for consumption, this may not be a great option.
Firstly, you likely will not have enough quantity that will be worth the while of the storage company. Secondly, using a storage facility requires planning. You cannot pop into the facility and retrieve your bottles (or a few bottles) anytime you want.
There are also charges you will have to pay each time you put in or take out your wine bottles. Add to this is an annual storage charge that you have to pay. Holistically, in this kind of situation, the cost of storage may far outweigh the value you intend to get.
Even if you store them in the facility and take them out for consumption, eventually, you still need a sort of home storage if you intend to drink it over a long period.
How to Store Your Wine At Home
For the reasons stated above, it is more convenient for a wine lover to store consumable ones at home. There are different options to do this but before considering them, you can find below tips on storing it at home.
Evaluate What You Intend To Store
When thinking about storing at home, you need to put various things into consideration. These will include:
- What type of wine it is
- The quantity you want to store.
- How long you will need to store them.
- Where you will be storing them and the amount of space you have based on the quantity you want to store.
- How will the storage and display fit into your lifestyle? Many people like to store theirs in an aesthetically pleasing way that reflects their style.
Store at the Right Temperature
As mentioned earlier, temperature is one of the important factors that influence the storage of wine. The ideal temperature for storing it is around 130C (550F). This may vary slightly for each type of wine. But note that too much heat or cold will spoil the quality.
You can consult the manufacturer if you need specific temperatures for storing their product. Regardless of the type, it should never be stored below -40C (250F) which will cause it to freeze. Also, it should not be stored above 200C (680F) as this can quicken its aging process and ruin its volatile compounds.
Additionally, ensure to keep the storage temperature stable as much as possible. A fluctuation in temperature will cause chemical reactions that will make the cork expand and contract. This will then let air seep in or allow the wine to seep out.
In extreme cases, the cork can remove and this will waste the wine. You can check this out and more in this article.
Store at the Right Humidity
Humidity is another factor that affects the quality of wine. High humidity will impact its longevity. It will also make the bottle labels peel off and this can make it difficult to identify or display them.
At low humidity, the corks may dry out. This leaves the wine vulnerable to oxygen effects that will affect its quality. Generally, the humidity level for your storage needs to be around 60 to 68 percent.
Safeguard it from Vibrations and Light
It is best to keep your wine in the dark no matter the length of time that you are storing it. This is because ultraviolet rays from the sun can destroy its aroma and flavors. Additionally, you need to keep it away from vibration sources like dryers and washers. Vibrations will disrupt its favorable aging process by disturbing the sediments present in the bottle.
Positioning and Orientation
The best position to store your wine bottles is horizontally by making them lie on their side especially those with corks. Doing this helps to keep the cork moist and this is vital when storing for an extended period. Dried out corks can cause premature aging, seepage, or waste.
For bottles that have screw tops, you may not necessarily store them on their sides but it is still the most efficient way. Storing it this way helps to maximize your space and provide easy access when you need to reach them. However, some brands of champagne advise that their product be stored in an upright position rather than horizontal.
Store Away From Strong Odors
You should avoid storing your wine in places where it can be tainted by strong odors. Because the cork is porous, these can breathe through it. Strong odors can permeate the cork and blight its smell and taste. Store away from odors such as garlic, paint, cleaning products, chemicals, etc.
Avoid Storing in the Fridge for An Extended Time
Storing your wine in the fridge is fine when doing so for a short time. However, vibrations from the different parts of the fridge can damage it as well as opening and closing it often. You could also be exposing it to food odors present in the fridge.
When storing it for an extended time, it is best to remove it from the fridge and any other frequently used household devices.
Storing Open Bottles
Opened wine bottles may last in the fridge for up to three days if stored properly. The key to this is to recork immediately and tightly. When recorking, you should place wax paper over the cork then slide it into its original position. The wax paper helps to make it easy to re-cork and ensure that stray parts do not drop into the bottle.
If the cork is no longer available having been discarded or chipped, you can use a wine stopper instead. If you need to keep an opened bottle for longer, you should use a pump to remove air before resealing the bottle. You can learn more about this here https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/beverages/leftover-wine-guide.
Home Storage Options
Having seen how to store your bottles, the next question is where do you store it? There are various options available to do so depending on the quantity you need to store and the storage period. Some of these options are below.
Build a Cellar
If you have space in your home, then you may consider building a cellar to store your bottles. To do this, you will need to partition or condone off the space. You also need to insulate the area and install a vapor barrier.
Additionally, you will need to install a conditioning unit and ensure to position it properly. You will need to consider several factors such as how to regulate temperature and humidity. Part of this is also having a backup plan in case of any mechanical failure.
Having a cellar is an attractive option but keep in mind that it can be technical and expensive to construct. You may need the input of professionals or those who already constructed one to help out. It can add value to your home but if you have to move house, you cannot take it with you. Therefore, if it is not your property, you may need to consider if it is worth your while and money.
Cabinets are an option if you do not have a cellar. They are versatile and affordable and are most often easily accessible. These cabinets come in a variety of shapes, sizes as well as prices. They can be considered as bespoke furniture pieces designed solely for storing wines.
Typically, they are manufactured to be top quality and to fit into most living spaces in homes. They also help to control temperature and offer greater racking than coolers.
If you live where space is limited or you cannot go through the trouble of building a cellar, a wine fridge is an option. This may also be referred to as a wine cooler and they are different from regular fridges.
They are designed to hold wine and come in a variety of size capacities. A shallow depth wine cooler can hold up 20 bottles while some are large enough to hold up to 90 bottles. Unlike the conventional refrigerator, a cooler keeps them at the proper humidity and temperature. This temperature is between 100C to 150C (500F to 600F).
A good cooler will have cooling settings. They help to keep your wines from cross-contamination and odors from food. They also come with the right settings and ambiance for your wine.
Although they can be pricey, remember that good wine is an investment. Consider it as protecting your investment.
Wine is an investment especially if they are fine, aged ones. They are also quite fragile and delicate and need certain conditions to preserve them.
For these reasons, you need to be intentional about storing them properly with the right conditions. You have to consider the temperature, humidity as well as light. You may transfer this responsibility to a storage facility but it is not always the case.
In situations where you cannot, due to quantity or cost, there are ways that you can store them inside your home. Only ensure to follow the above tips and conditions of storage.
Keep in mind that not every wine needs storing or aging. Some are produced to be taken in the short term. You can store these as well but use systems that allow you easy access to them such as a cooler.