Storing Wine

If you have the space, storing wine can give a lot of enjoyment. It is a pleasure to have a range of bottles on-hand for any occasion and to go with any food: to serve an elegant white with supper, enjoy a sweet wine with desert and savour a powerful red after eating is true luxury. Ideally you will have bottles ready to drink immediately and some which you intend to mature for some years.

The key criteria for storing wine are as follows, starting with the most important and then progressing to the less important:

  •  Temperature stability. The most important consideration in storing wine is temperature. Wine likes to be stored in a cool but not cold room; 10C to 15C is ideal but anything up to about 20C is acceptable. Widely fluctuating temperatures will quickly destroy wine. A poorly insulated room which heats up in the day and cools down at night will soon spoil any wine.

  •  Avoid high temperatures. High temperatures will quickly age any wine, and not in a nice way. High 20s will ruin a wine within days (or less) and certainly any temperature over about 18º Celcius (68º Farenheit) are undesirable. However, it is likely better to have a consistently warm room than one that alternates between warm and cold.

  •  Avoid very cold temperatures. The ideal temperature for storing wine is about 12 degrees (the exact figure varies somewhat from expert to expert). A few degrees colder than this is acceptable, but anything near zero is very bad.

  •  Avoid light. Light should be avoided, most especially sunlight. A wine room certainly should not have any windows, and preferably it should be dark most of the time.

  •  Avoid vibration. This is a relatively minor consideration for bottles being stored for a relatively short time. However, one would certainly not want to leave bottles on top (or beside) a source of vibrations (such as a clothes dryer). Likewise, storing a normal bottle in the fridge for a few days is not a big problem, but the vibrations from an ordinary kitchen fridge make it unsuitable for long-term storage of valuable wines.

  •  Avoid chemicals and strong smells. Wine should not be stored where there are chemicals in the air (e.g. next to open paint cans) or strong smells (e.g. in a cheese cellar).

  •  Moderate humidity. Humidity (too low or too high). Humidity should be moderately high, to prevent the cork from drying out and to minimise evaporation from the bottle. One would not want 100% humidity as this leads to mould, but this is seldom to be found in the average household, so one normally is more concerned about low humidity than high humidity. In general, humidity is much less of a problem than the previous considerations. Even in a dry room, the average bottle can be stored on its side for months without noticeable damage. However, if you are storing valuable bottles for years, this becomes a consideration.

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