How to store wine
The importance of wine storage cannot be emphasized enough. When a wine is first bottled, it will be in pristine condition, however, over time it will evolve. This evolution is mainly dependant on the storage in which the bottle is kept.
Important factors when storing wines
There are three important factors when storing wines:
2) Relative humidity
Importance of temperature in storing wine: Not too hot and not too cold
Temperature is the key driver in terms of the evolution of your wine bottles. Too hot and your wine will quickly oxidize (like in the back of a car at 100F), too cold and the bottles might crack ( ex. when placed in a freezer). So what is the correct temperature for wine storage? Most agree that anywhere between 55°F to 57°F (12°C to 14°C) is the perfect temperature to store wine over a long period of time. But what if the temperature is slightly above or below that temperature? Without going to the extremes there is no big deal when storing wine slightly cooler or warmer than the recommended temperature. If your wine is being stored slightly below 55°F (12°C), your wine will just evolve a little slower than the average bottle, however usually with a lower temperature, lower humidity will be expected, which is not desirable as you will see below. If a wine is stored at a slightly warmer temperature than 57°F (14°C), then your wines will evolve quicker than the average bottle, however, the humidity will also increase as temperature increases, hence caution has to be taken.
Importance of humidity in storing wine: Not too high and not too low
So what is Relative Humidity? The relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in air compared to how much it can hold at a fixed temperature. A wine cellar should be around 65% relative humidity, to put that in perspective, the Amazon rainforest and some cities in Asia such as Bangkok and Singapore often see 100% humidity, so the air is holding 100% of the water vapor it can hold..sweaty. On the other end of the scale, the Atacama desert in Peru is the driest place in the world with a relative humidity of 0%. It is recommended that the average household has a relative humidity of around 50% in the summer and 30% in the winter. A wine cellar though needs around 65% relative humidity. This will ensure the corks are kept at optimum humidity, too humid and it will grow mold, too dry and it will crack.
Importance of consistency in storing wines: No rapid temperature swings
Most are so worried about keeping the temperature at a perfect 55°F to 57°F, they forget that consistency is key to long-term storage. For those who keep their wines in a non-regulated wine cellar, you will notice a summer to winter variation, this will have a significant impact on the quality of your wine in the long term. My recommendation is to invest in a professional wine-grade cellar when looking to store wine over a long period of time.
Other recommendations when storing wines over a long period: light, vibration, and sideways storage
Keep out of direct light - The impact of UV light will heat up your wine, even if stored in a cool environment. This is like walking outside in the winter with a bright sun, the chance is you might get burnt, the same as for wine.
Vibration - Don't place your wine next to a washing machine! Short-term vibration has not been proven to impact long-term storage, so don't worry about that FEDEX driver delivering your wine along that bumpy road. However long-term vibration will impact the sediment in the wine bottle, which will cause chemical reactions impacting the quality of the wine.
Sideways storage - Always place a wine bottle on its side - This will ensure the cork will still moist. The cork is known to dry out when the bottle is placed upright, even in a humid environment.
Can I keep a bottle of wine in the fridge?
Absolutly! During a short period of time there are no issues storing wine in the fridge. The temperature is slightly lower than required for long term storage, yet the humidity is perfect, usually around 65%. If you are looking to drink your bottle of wine within a few weeks of purchase then there will be no issues storing your wine in a fridge, however any longer I recommend storing your wines in a professional cellar
Which wine cellar should you buy?
To keep a small collection of around 15 bottles, which is perfect for any beginnger who tends to drink wine once a week. I recommend the Nutrichef 15 bottle Wine Cooler refrigerator. Another solid choice is the Danby 36 bottle Wine Cooler. I always recommend to start collecting wine on a small scale, and will have a follow up post shortly in terms of the best way to start your collecting wine.