For those of us without our own sommeliers, wine storage can sometimes pose a problem. Should you store a bottle for years or months? At what temperature and humidity? On its side or standing up? These questions and more can arise, and of course there is the issue of how to store a bottle of wine once you have opened it. For solutions to both long-term and short-term wine storage problems, see below.
Once you have opened a bottle of wine, your storage options usually become limited. Oxidation begins upon the opening, a process which will degrade your wine. White wines and older reds become oxidized more rapidly, and they can quickly begin to have unpleasant aromas and tastes. There are devices you can purchase to slow the oxidation of your wine, such as rubber stoppers you hand pump to create a vacuum (eliminating some of the oxygen). The Vacu-Vin Wine Saver is a good one to try (click here to buy.) You can’t really stop the oxidation process, though, so store your opened wine in the refrigerator and finish it within the next few days, or toss it
If you have purchased wines for an upcoming event and need to store them for a few months, there are a few simple tips you can follow for perfect short-term storage. First, lay your bottles on their sides to keep the corks from drying out (unless they are screwtop, of course.) You should also put them in a dark place (light can react with the proteins in the wine), preferably where the temperature is constant (so not your garage, please. Or your back porch.) Don’t store wines on top of your refrigerator as the constant vibrations are not good for them. These short-term storage tips should keep your wines in perfect drinking condition for up to six months.
Long-term wine storage needs a little more planning. Like short-term storage, you’ll need a dark spot where the temperature is constant. Opinions on the perfect temperature for wine storage vary, but in general around 50 degrees F is good. (The ideal temperature for storage will vary with the type of wine.) High humidity (between 60-80%) is preferable to keep the corks from drying out (don’t forget to store them on their sides!) You may want to purchase some wine racks for long-term storage so you don’t have to stack your bottles. Depending on how much money you want to spend on long-term storage (which should be commiserate with how much money you have spent on your wines), you can invest in more sophisticated wine storage appliances, such as wine refrigerators that will allow you to control the temperature and humidity. Also, don’t store your wines near other cans or bottle containing food or liquids with strong aromas for a long (or even a short) time, as your wines can absorb these.