A passion for fine wine can prove frustrating when you run out of room to properly store each bottle. But if you’re undecided on whether to renovate your home to include a functional wine cellar, consider the type of wine you usually drink and its storage requirements. A new wine cellar may improve your storage situation more than you would expect.
How to Store Wine and Why
If you regularly pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store to enjoy throughout the week or month, you likely haven’t thought much about storing it. After all, placing a bottle in the refrigerator for a few days won’t affect the taste much, if at all.
However, when it comes to long-term storage of wine that you don’t plan to consume immediately, the rules are different. Here are the top considerations for storing wine long-term.
Keep a Constant Temperature
A temperature between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is best, but the key is to avoid considerable variations in temperature. If your refrigerator goes on the fritz and temperatures rise and fall throughout the day, you’ll notice a change in the flavor of your wine, and it likely will not prove pleasant.
Avoid UV Light
Ultraviolet light can ruin delicate wines like white or sparkling varieties. For short-term wine storage, you may leave bottles on the counter until you’re ready to uncork them. Still, placing wine bottles on a windowsill or in a sunny area of your kitchen is ill-advised, especially if they’re lighter wines. That said, red wine often fares well despite UV exposure.
Low humidity can dry out your cork, but humidity over about 80 percent can result in mold growth. Neither of these is good for your wine or its cork, so concentrating on maintaining a humidity level between 50 and 70 percent is best.
If you prefer wine that requires aging, this is an important consideration. Wine that lends itself to aging often has sediment remnants in the bottom of the bottle, and if the bottle experiences excessive vibration, the sediment mixes with the wine. However, placing bottles upright before consuming helps to separate out any particles.
Best Choices for Wine Cellars
If you’re more than a casual wine drinker and want a space that allows for aging wine and maintaining delicate flavors, a wine cellar is your best bet. Consistent temperature, humidity, and light conditions result in a better tasting and preserved (or aged) wine.
But once your wine cellar is ready to house a few choice bottles, which ones need those accommodations most? The acidity, tannin, sweetness, and alcohol level all contribute to a wine’s suitable shelf life and storage needs. Here are a few recommendations from Wine Folly that will withstand a substantial aging period.
Because Merlot is a relatively common wine, as its grapes grow in hundreds of thousands of acres of vineyards across the world, it’s common in most stores. Merlot tolerates aging for between seven and 17 years under the right storage conditions.
Another widely available wine that grows in diverse climates across the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is a traditionally full-bodied wine that appreciates aging for between ten and 20 years.
While most white wines have a shorter time frame for aging, White Rioja can age for ten to 15 years and still produce vibrant flavor. Since white wines differ in structure from reds, they’re less hardy when it comes to cellar storage.
Another white wine that will last about ten years in a home wine cellar, Chardonnay is a grocery store shelf staple. Because this wine often ages in oak, this helps bolster its ability to weather storage for longer periods without flavor breakdown.
Fortified wines contain additional ingredients that prolong their shelf life, and Vintage Port is no exception. These types of wines last the longest, and a good Vintage Port can spend 50 to 100 years in a cellar with no ill effects. That said, you’ll likely want to uncork this bottle before it outlasts its shelf life!
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