Our latest guest blog is from Robin James at Mr Wheeler Wine, independent wine merchants based in Colchester.
The question of how best to store wine is one that is often posed to me, and to be honest the answer can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Unlike most consumable products these days, wine is one of the very few purchases that you can make that doesn’t come with either a best before or use by date. With the equally rare ability to actually improve with age, exactly when a wine should be drunk is often more dependent on who is actually drinking it and their own particular preference than anything more scientific. That said, whatever your tastes are and regardless of how long you are expecting to keep a wine, there are a few simple guidelines you should consider for wine storage, which if followed should result in many years of happy drinking.
The key thing to bear in mind when planning your wine storage is to avoid extremes. In terms of temperature, the best temperature to store wine is generally considered to be around 14°C. Although this may sound rather precise as long as it’s somewhere between 10°C and 20°C you’re unlikely to go too far wrong. Kept too cold and the wine might start to expand – or possibly even freeze – while storing it at too high a temperature is likely to make the wine begin to mature too soon and in turn deteriorate too quickly. Large fluctuations in temperature in particular will also damage a wine. Therefore, although many people store their wine in a regular kitchen cupboard, this is best avoided – especially if you store it near the cooker. Worse still is storing unprotected in a garage where in the winter the temperature can easily drop below zero.
Alongside temperature the other main consideration to take into account is avoid keeping wine in areas of direct sunlight, especially when it comes to white wine storage, in colourless glass bottles. Sunlight, much like excessive heat, can also cause a wine to quickly begin to deteriorate if left over time; as such being kept next to the kitchen window is a big no no.
The third aspect you should also consider, although this is only really important if you are planning on keeping a wine over a period of years rather than weeks, and then only when storing wines bottled under cork, is humidity. Once a cork dries out within a bottle it begins to allow more oxygen to seep into a bottle which results in the wine inside becoming damaged. Excessive oxygen will cause a wine to begin to taste dull and flat and as such should always be avoided. Along with a dull and often unpleasant taste an oxidized wine will also change in colour and give off an undesirable aroma. Therefore, ensuring the right level of humidity in your wine storage is crucial. The simplest way of achieving this is always try and keep the corks damp by storing the wine horizontally, which keeps the wine in contact with the cork, until you want to drink it.
In the case of older reds and Ports that may start to form sediment, standing them up for twenty four hours before you want to drink them will help to loosen it and allow it to sink to the bottle, therefore making it easier to decant when opened. Of course excessive humidity also brings with it other problems too; apart from potentially damaging the corks, dampness can also cause damage to labels which will not only spoil the enjoyment of storing a prized bottle in pristine condition but can also lead to problems identifying older vintages in years to come.
Ultimately following these few simple guidelines along with a little care and attention is all that is really required and you can sit back comfortably and enjoy everything from a great value new world white to your prized vintage red, knowing your wine is in safe hands.
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At Davonport we work closely with appliance partners such as Sub-Zero who offer a variety of premium wine cooling facilities. We have also created bespoke wine cellars for past clients. If you would like further information on wine storage or appliances please feel free to contact us.