Every good wine lover is likely to have a few bottles of wine at home. Some are saved for a special day, some are to remember a special event, and some were perhaps just bought to enjoy, on a trip or as a great opportunity. All of these wines are ones that you’re probably not looking to drink straight away.
And so, we should probably ask ourselves, am I storing my wine correctly? Do I need to buy a “cave à vin” wine cooler or refrigerator?
Having a wine cellar would of course be perfect, but storing wine properly at home can be much more simple than that. There are a few things you can do to make our favourite wines last as long as possible.
The rule of three for storing wine at home
Wines should be stored horizontally so that the cork is in constant contact with the liquid. If the cork dries it loses its elasticity and lets oxygen pass through, which can make wines decay.
Many wineries are using screw caps for their younger wines. These bottles don’t need to be are stored horizontally, because there is no cork that needs to be in contact with the liquid.
When it comes to sparkling wines, some say the best way to store them is upright, but others say that there is not much difference between one way and another. Experts even choose to store them horizontally.
Temperature, like oxygen, is one of the great enemies of wine.
Try to store your wines in a quiet and dark place, with a constant temperature, no sudden changes and certainly away from the kitchen!
A temperature between 7ºC and 18ºC is acceptable. Between 14ºC and 16ºC is perfect because it allows aged wines to mature slowly.
For quality sparkling wines, the ideal storage temperature is between 10ºC and 12ºC.
An important factor in preserving wine is humidity. Too much humidity can damage bottle labels and, worse than that, make the corks excessively moist, leading to fungus and mould that spoil the wine.
Lack of moisture is also bad because it can make the corks dry out more easily and allow oxygen into the bottles. 70% humidity would be ideal.
So, can you see how this isn’t actually too complicated? Most of the time it’s a question of common sense.
Which wines can we keep?
This is one of the most common questions we hear but, unfortunately, there is no exact formula to work out how many years a certain wine can be kept before opening it. All we have are predictions to help us calculate the storage capacity of a wine, and this can depend on many factors: a wine made with ripe and healthy grapes, from a good vintage and already aged to give it longevity is very likely to have a long life.
There are certain varieties that contribute to wines being suitable for keeping. Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon all age well thanks to their structure and tannin content.
However, there are some red grapes, like Garnacha and Pinot Noir, that tend to be more delicate. That’s not to say they will never age well. But it will depend a lot on the style of wine and the factors we mentioned earlier that can contribute to longevity.
On another note, we often assume that white wines cannot be kept but there are some wonderful exceptions of wines made with varieties like Riesling, Chardonnay and Macabeo (Viura) that have an aging capacity that many reds would envy.
If you have young wines at home, drink them before long. These wines are designed to be enjoyed straight away, when they are at their best. But perhaps, after following our advice, you might be able to extend their delicious life just a little and be pleasantly surprised.