Storing & Organizing Wine
June 9, 2015
Storing and Organizing Wines
What is it about wine that turns us into collectors? It’s desirable taste, and its uncanny ability to get better over time add to this age old tradition. Though there are some specific standards to storing wine for extended amounts of time (20+ years), anyone with enough room in a dark closet can hold on to their bounty for at least a couple of years.
First things first, storage temperatures are the most important thing to consider when stowing away your wine collection. For an average temperature for all wines, stay between 50 and 59 Degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature
If you are using a wine cooler, this will be an easy adjustment on the digital setting typically on the front of the cooler itself.
If you do not have access to a cooler, find the darkest and most humid corner of your home, preferably with little to no vibration. “Closet aging” will certainly keep most wines in drinking condition for about two years.
Wines with a traditional cork should be kept upside down, with the cork in complete contact with the wine. This keeps the cork moist and the suction active, preventing wine faults such as oxidation. Oxidation occurs when poor storage practices lead to wine being exposed to oxygen. One way to avoid oxidation would be to purchase wines with synthetic closures.
Choosing wines carefully for aging is another important aspect of wine storage. Four things to consider when selecting age worthy wines are:
- Acidity – Wines lose acidity over extended lengths of time, so choosing a wine with a healthy amount can ensure that your wine does not fall flat over the course of a few years.
- Tannin – Tannins from grape skin contact and barrel aging create a hefty structure, and those wines with more tannins and structure will last longer.
- Alcohol – Non-fortified wines should be at or below 13.5% alcohol if the intended storage time is greater than 5 years.
- Residual Sugar – Though the aging of dry reds is the most popular, many of the sweetest wines live the longest including Port, Sherry, and Rieslings.
Do you have a hefty collection and no options for storage? Well now may be the time to start drinking! Throw a wine pairing party and enjoy wine the way it was meant to be enjoyed; with friends! Take notes on your favorites and keep a log of various varietals and labels rather than keeping the wines themselves.
Italian Food Scientist, Fulvio Mattivis conducted an interesting study on the storage of wines at The Fondazione Edmund Mach Food Science Lab in Northern Italy. He tested 400 bottles in different storage environments. 200 bottles went into a temperature controlled cellar, while the other 200 were placed in a dark closet-like room with fluctuating temperatures that mimicked the climate of most households. After two years, the wines stored in the closet like room suffered a great loss of antioxidants and color, and some fell privy to oxidation. Though the majority of the wine was still drinkable, it did not compare chemically or in flavor to those wines stored at a steady temperature in a controlled environment.
No one wants to lose 200 bottles of wine testing that theory out themselves. The moral of the story is that if you plan to invest a significant amount of money in your wine collection, the safest bet would be to find a storage option that provides the recommended temperature controls.
Different options include wine coolers, easily found at various “big box stores” including Costco and Target. Other options would be storing your wine at a professional location. Most wine storage facilities start their storage fees at around $3.50 per case. They also offer insurance plans for your collection and access to buyers if you are so inclined.
Whatever your optimal storage procedure might be, it is always a good idea to keep your wines organized and labeled in a way that you can easily identify what to drink first, and what to save for later!