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Wine Storage for Beginners

Wine storage can seem like a foreign concept for novice wine drinkers.  I didn’t even think about wine storage when I first started drinking wine because I immediately drank everything I purchased.  Things changed when I started buying six bottles at a time at the grocery store to take advantage of the discount and Tim took me on my first trip to Napa.  Over a few months, we built up a little collection with no storage plan.  It gives me shivers now, but we placed the cases of wine in a storage area under our stairs where the temperature fluctuates and at times can be very warm.  I had no idea this was a bad idea until I took my first wine class.  Keep reading below so you don’t make the same mistakes I did when it came to wine storage.

Why is proper wine storage important?

Wine is picky and should be properly cared for because incorrect storage can severely affect the wines flavor, and it may even lead to the wine becoming faulty (this is a fancy wine term for gross.)  This is why wine nerds like myself act like raging lunatics when it comes to our favorite bottles.  We buy the wine because we know all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making it, we know the pros have given it good scores, it was expensive, and it’s the last of the best vintage in decades.  These special bottles are placed in our cellars where we make special trips to check on the wine, cradle it in our hands, and actually talk to it like it’s our youngest child.

Then the day comes when the wine is ready to be enjoyed.  It’s very similar to the day you hand over the car keys to your child; you are ready to let them go but very nervous all at the same time.  What if the wine isn’t at its peak, what if it’s past its peak, what if it’s corked, what if …  If you haven’ t stored your wine properly it will go bad, and all this craziness will be for nothing.  And seriously, it is crazy to compare wine to your own children, but this is what we wino’s cooler

Four ways to properly store wine-

Maybe you aren’t a crazy wino, but even if you are buying six bottles at a time at the grocery store, you must know about proper wine storage.  To better remember how to properly store your wine, think of how you like to sleep.  I like my room to be a little on the cool side, quite with no commotion, and I like to sleep on my side.  This is just like wine!  If you keep this in mind, you will never forget how you should be storing wine.  Let me break it down for you.

#1. Lay wines sealed with a cork on their side except for bubbly

Wines sealed with a cork must lay on their side for the cork to keep in contact with the wine.  If the cork dries out, oxygen will enter the bottle and eventually oxidize the wine.  This is important if you plan to store a wine for over a few months.  If the bottle has a screwcap, it’s not necessary to lay it on its side since the oxygen can’t penetrate the cap. Bubbly will blow it’s corked if stored on its side so keep those bottles upright at all times.

#2. Keep wine away from natural and artificial light

We’ve all stored a bottle under our lights in the kitchen. DO NOT DO THIS! Natural light from the sunshine and artificial lights can heat up the bottles over time, and the wine will become stale, create unpleasant flavors, and taste flat.  Wine likes it dark just like we do when we sleep.

#3. Store at the correct temperature

If you plan to store your wine for longer than a week, you need to choose a location with constant temperature.  Storing wine where the temperature fluctuates can damage your wine and make it faulty. This includes the fridge in the kitchen. Opening and closing that door fluctuates the temperature and the exposure to cool temperatures will cause the cork to shrink and oxygen to enter the bottle.  The garage gets warm in the summer and will lead to heat damage.  Investing in a wine fridge or a storage locker (check out Cellar 55 in Vancouver) is the best thing you can do. Both of these options keep your wine safe and at a constant temperature of around 55 degrees.

#4. Create a calming atmosphere

Actually, just make sure your wine is away from vibration.  You don’t want the wine jostling around since all that commotion can cause the wine to taste flat. I like to talk to my bottles in my happy voice. Tell your wine how pretty it is and ask it if it needs anything.  Dust your bottles and be appreciative.  It sounds crazy, but your wine will thank you!

Even if you are just getting into wine or have a collection already, proper wine storage is essential.  If anything, make sure you are storing your wine at the proper temperature.  I’m so sad when someone tells me a wine was horrible when I know the producer makes excellent wine.   Upon further interrogation, I find out they were storing the wine in their garage!  Don’t be this person.  Love on your wine, and it will love you back!

Where’s the worst place you’ve stored your wine?  Fess up, we’ve all done it and I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below.

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