Mastering the art of wine storage, including proper upright positioning and temperature control, is crucial for preserving the flavor of fine wines and being able to discern when they have deteriorated.Mastering the art of wine storage, including proper upright positioning and temperature control, is crucial for preserving the flavor of fine wines and being able to discern when they have deteriorated.Storage Tips

Protect Your Wine Collection With These Storage Tips

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As you start to grow your wine collection, you may wonder what the best way to store it could be, especially if you plan to keep some bottles for some time. Proper bottled wine can last a long time, and the flavor may improve over that period if it’s maintained in the proper circumstances. Before you tuck the next bottle onto the top of the refrigerator or store it in the basement, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

What Is the Best Way to Store Unopened Wine?

Unopened wine does not need to be refrigerated. While every type of wine is a bit different, most don’t require a lot of exceptional circumstances or highly controlled environments. You don’t have to have a full temperature-controlled room dedicated to your wine storage (unless you want to), but consider these tips and strategies to help ensure it goes well.

Should You Store Wine Flat or Upright?

The easy thing to do is to store wine upright, but that’s not ideal unless it’s for a short time. It’s better to keep it on its side any time the wine bottle has a cork in it. Otherwise, the cork will dry out, and that allows for oxygen to get into the bottle, leading to the wine spoiling. As long as the cork remains swollen due to the natural moisture present, that will protect the seal long-term. Also important is to keep wine out of direct sunlight. It’s never a good idea to place it where it could be exposed to sunlight, even for a few minutes every day.

What Temperature Is Wine Best Stored At?

As noted, you don’t have to store wine that’s unopened in the refrigerator, but you should monitor the temperature in the space to some degree. This is somewhat dependent on the type of wine. For example, a full-bodied red will benefit from the deepening of its flavors that occurs over time when stored at room temperature. Other wines, including roses and whites, are best-served cold, which means keeping them refrigerated can be a good idea if you plan to use them in the short term.

What’s important is to maintain temperature consistency and humidity levels. Any changes in these conditions can cause damage to the wine itself, especially as it will change the aroma, flavor, and even the overall character of the wine.

For the best temperature, aim for between 45 and 65 degrees for any wine that is meant to age. If the wine is kept at a temperature above 70 for long, it will suffer deterioration. Aim for the humidity control in the space to range from 50 to 80 percent. Aiming for this environment is going to provide the best overall control.

What Is the Shelf Life of Unopened Wine?

When wine is stored properly, it can last for several years. Some wines have the ability to last for decades and are often called fine wines. These age well, meaning their flavors deepen and change over time as long as they are kept unopened.

If you store white wines, aim to use them within 1 to 2 years for the best flavor. For other mid-range quality red wines, you should use them within 2 to 3 years of obtaining them. When the wine doesn’t taste good, even if it’s been kept unopened in controlled circumstances, don’t drink it. Also, read through the manufacturer’s recommendations. Many will provide specific rules on how to store it but also what the expiration date is for the wine. Follow the recommendations provided by the manufacturer for the best flavor.

How to Tell When Wine Has Gone Bad

Let’s say you’ve done everything right, and you’re still not sure if the wine you have to serve for your dinner party is actually in good condition. There are a few things to look for to know if the wine is safe to consume.

  • Look at the color of the wine. If it is a red wine, and the color is gone from it, or it looks more like a rose, chances are that means it’s no longer suitable.
  • The wine looks cloudy. Over time, the wine may become less translucent, which is often an indication that the microbial activity within the bottle is too high, and that means you shouldn’t drink the wine.
  • The wine seems more of a brown color than a red color. When you cut open an apple, and the air gets to it, it browns. The same thing happens with wine, a browning occurs that indicates too much oxidative stress has occurred.
  • The odor of the wine isn’t appealing. Oxidation is likely the case if the wine has a burnt marshmallow or nutty smell to it. A sharp or vinegar-like taste typically means that the wine has a high acetic level.
  • Bubbles are present on the wine’s surface. Those bubbles shouldn’t be there as an unplanned fermentation is likely to have happened.

Any time you’re unsure about the quality or the overall condition of the wine, don’t drink it. Most often, though, you can take steps to protect your wine by having proper storage methods in place. Whenever possible, do a bit of research regarding the specific type of wine you have. That’s going to give you more insight into how you can protect your wine.

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