Tips for Cellaring, Storing and Enjoying your Wine

7 Important Tips for Cellaring, Storing and Enjoying Your Wine

Wine Wall with Display Bottles

These are some simple and important tips for storing, maturing and preserving your wine.

  1. Store Your Wine at the Optimal Temperature. One of the most important factors influencing the quality of stored wine is the temperature and stability of the environment. Extremes of warm, cold or fluctuating temperatures directly affect the live and drinking enjoyment of your wine. The ideal temperature range for wine storage is between  13ºC-16ºC, but this can vary from wine to wine and is dependent on the time that you wish to cellar the wine till drinking. Temperature recommendations for specific wines can usually be found on the bottle label from by contacting the producer. Regardless of the grape, vintage or origin of your wine it should never be kept below 0ºC, which can cause wine to freeze or above 20°C. These extreme temperature ranges will accelerate the aging process and destroy volatile compounds. The last and most importantly aspect of wine storage temperature is that the wine storage temperature should be kept as stable as possible. Temperature fluctuations will cause the maturation process to increase and decrease rather than remain stable and consistent. With fluctuating temperatures there is also the potential for the cork to expand and contract and increasing air transition through the cork and potentially allowing wine to seep out.
  2. Store your wine in a dark place free from Vibration. No matter if your are storing your wine for years, months, weeks or days, your wine should be kept in the dark as much as possible. The UV rays from direct sunlight can damage wine’s flavors and aromas by breaking down the volatile chemicals. Wine should also be kept away from sources of vibration, such as electrical devices including washing machines, dryers and fridges. Vibrations can cause a disturbance of the sediments in the bottle, this will disrupt the delicate process that the wine will undertake while maturing. Keeping wine fridges out of your wine cellar is a prudent move to reduce vibrations across your wine collection and storage. 
  3. Store Wine Bottles Horizontally. Storing your wine bottles horizontally is essential for bottles with corks, be sure to store your wine horizontally in a wine rack, wooden wine racking has a classic appearance and will compliment your wine in your cellar. Storing wine on its side keeps the cork moist, this is key for long-term storage, a dry cork can cause seepage and premature ageing and can deteriorate into your wine. While it’s not essential to store screw top wine bottles on their sides, horizontal storage is an efficient way to store your wines to allow for easy access and neat storage.
  4. Store Wine at the Appropriate Humidity. Significant changes in the Humidity in your wine cellar or wine storage area can also impact your wine’s longevity. Whether your wine in stored under stairs, in a apartment or underground wine cellar the consistency and humidity range is important. Within cellars in Subtropical climates such as a Melbourne Wine Cellar, the humidity is relatively low and stable while a Sydney wine cellar can experience extremes of humidity. At lower humidity levels, corks can dry out, leaving the wine vulnerable to the effects of oxygen. While higher humidity can cause mould on the corks and labels to peel off the bottles, making them difficult to display or sell. The humidity range for your wine cellar should be between 60 and 70 percent.
  5. Wine can Be Stored in a Fridge, Though Not a Regular Fridge. If you don’t have a wine cellar or wine storage space that is consistently cool, dark, and moist, a wine refrigerator can be used to store wine. A regular refrigerator keeps food very cold and dry, while a wine fridge keeps wine at specific temperatures best suited to wines, 10-15˚C for most wines and lower temperatures for champagnes and white wines ready to drink. Specific wine fridges will also maintain wine at the correct humidity range.  Storing wine in a dedicated wine fridge helps prevent the change in temperatures of the door being opened and closed. Although wine fridges do offer an alternative to a wine cellar with wine racking, there are costly to run and potentially damaging to you wine if they break down unnoticed. Wine fridges should not be utilised in the same area as a wine cellar or wine storage due to the heat and vibrations from the motor in the fridge compressor. 
  6. Serve Wine at the Appropriate Temperature. After selecting a favourite bottle of wine to serve to fellow wine lovers, allow sufficient time for it to adjust up or down to the best serving temperature. This will allow the wine to fully express the aroma and flavor contained. Red wine should be served chilled slightly below room temperature, around 16-20˚C. The exact temperature for serving is determined by the age of the wine, with older wines being held better at 16-20˚C and younger wines towards the cooler end of the range. Reds with higher tannin levels should be served on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum than lighter red wines, such as a pinot noir which can go as cold as 16˚C. White wines will retain their crisp character and should be served colder than reds wines, but so cold as to affect the aromas. The ideal temperature for white wine should be chilled between and served between 8-12˚C. White sparkling wines should also be served on the colder end of the suggested range and the same range for sweet white wines. Champagne should be served coldest of all 4-8˚C, will will enhance the crisp taste and accentuate the palate.  
  7. Store Open Bottles of Wine with Minimal Air. With the appropriate wine accessories, such as a vacuum wine seal, an opened bottle of wine can last 12-14 days or more. The key to extending the shelf life of an open wine and retain its original qualities is to re-cork it with a vacuum seal and remove the air. Just re-corking a bottle of wine will trap the air inside the bottle and allow the wine to spoil. The wine vacuum pump, which enables you to suck the air out of an open bottle creates a nearly airtight seal after removing the air from the bottle. Wine accessories such as waiters friends and wine cellar temperature monitoring devices will assist to improve your wine cellaring and drinking experience.