One of the most popular kitchen trends of recent years (and not just lockdown) has been the addition of a wine fridge — and it’s easy to see why. Curating a wine collection that is tailored to your own personal preferences, weaknesses and tastes is one of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures.
Yet choosing which bottles to take home with you is only part of the process. They also have to be stored correctly. That’s because preserving wine is an art form that has so many benefits, from enhancing the taste to boosting its value, to simply helping it last for decades, if not longer. Flip that on its head, though, and you’ll find below-par storage has the ability to spoil even the finest wines.
In that spirit, we asked some of London’s top sommeliers how to best store wine at home:
1. Temperature is Essential When Storing Wine
When it comes to wine, there is nothing more integral to the quality than storing your bottles at the right temperature. Of course, each bottle will have its own guidelines, for which the winemaker will have all the information. But as a general rule of thumb, wine should be stored at 13°C (or 55°F).
The other general rules worth following are:
- Never store wine at temperatures above 20°C, as this will speed up the aging process and ruin the essential compounds
- Never store wine below -4ºC as this can lead to your wine freezing, thus ruining both the taste and preservatives.
And finally, try to keep your wine’s storage at a stable temperature, as fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and constrict, thus allowing air in and wine out, neither of which is a positive.
2. Wine Should Be Stored Horizontally
Safeguarding the integrity of your corks is another requirement when storing wine, which is why it’s integral to store your wine flat and horizontal. By doing this, the wine is able to keep the cork moist, which is especially important when storing wine for a longer duration. Not doing this will cause the cork to quickly dry out, meaning it will age a lot faster than it was intended to.
As for wine’s in a screw top bottle, horizontal storage isn’t necessary for preserving taste, compounds or lifespan, but it is a much more efficient way of using space, not to mention having easier access to your collection.
3. Humidity Plays an Important Role in Wine Storage
The dream of owning a full wine cellar is shared by so many wine enthusiasts. The problem you’re facing is humidity, as this can have a big impact on your wine’s integrity, causing it to age rapidly. Cellars or kitchen larders with lower levels of humidity can cause your corks to dry out, exposing your wine to oxygen which can spoil your wine. On the other hand, higher humidity won’t affect quality or longevity of your wine, but it can cause labels to peel off, which could cause problems for anyone wanting to resell or simply keep an organised collection.
As for the ideal humidity levels, somewhere between 60 and 70 is ideal.
4. Always Store Wine in a Wine Fridge
As tempting as it might be to store wine in a standard kitchen fridge, they are designed to keep food very cold and dry, which is far from ideal for your wine. Comparatively, purpose-built wine fridges (or wine coolers) are designed to store your wine between 10 and 15˚C and at the ideal humidity.
In addition to this, storing your wine in its own dedicated wine fridge will also stop any chance of cross-contamination taking place, especially with food odours that can drastically affect the flavour of your wine.
Of course, for many the big concern can be space. To address this, our team of design experts will work with you to find a solution based on your kitchen layout, including large wine fridges housed in our bespoke cabinetry to wine coolers that are built into your kitchen island. As for cost, for a lot of wine enthusiasts, wine tends to be an investment, which makes a good wine fridge a must-have for protecting your investment.
5. The Correct Way To Store Open Bottles of Wine
The shelf-life of a bottle that has already been open is remarkably short. But store your open bottle correctly and you’ll extend that shelf-life to 3 to 5 days. The secret is speed and efficiency when recorking your open bottle as this will prevent the amount of time it’s exposed to contamination.
To do this, wrap some wax paper around your cork and then gently push the cork back into the bottle neck. Not only will the wax paper make this easier to do, but it will also stop any bits of corking falling off and spoiling the leftover wine.
If you can’t re-cork your bottle, however, either because you threw the cork away or the cork got fractured when opening it, one option is to use a rubber stopper to create a snug enough seal that will stop air getting in and wine seeping out. That said, if you have a wine vacuum pump, they work best by sucking any air out of your open bottle to create an almost-airtight seal.