Wine Storage Basics

Wine Storage BasicsThere’s a certain panache and romance to the idea of a wine cellar, but not every establishment can justify one. Regardless, there are certain wine storage basics to follow to ensure that the wine will taste like the vintner intended when you open it.

Best Temperature for Wine Storage

In real estate, the cardinal rule is location, location, location. For wine storage, think temperature, temperature, temperature. First, it’s important to remember that long-term aging only benefits a very few wines on the market. According to Wine Spectator’sHow to Store Wine 101: 7 Basics You Need to Know,” most wines are best when consumed within a few years of their release. With that in mind, wine storage isn’t that complicated.

Temperature, however, is a critical component. Wine stored above 70 degrees will age quicker. It may not “turn to vinegar”; however, the tastes and aromas will probably be a bit flat. The ideal temperature range for wine storage is 45 to 65 degrees, with 55 degrees as the sweet spot. That temperature is usually cited as ideal.

What about refrigeration? If 70 is too hot, chances are the refrigerator is too cold since most are below 45 degrees for proper and safe food storage. Additionally, refrigeration may cause the cork to dry out, allowing air to seep into the bottle – a true no-no in wine storage. So, like Goldilocks learned: one is too hot, one is too cold, and one is just right: 55 degrees.

That said, the ideal temperature isn’t as critical as a steady and stable temperature. Storage at a stable 60 degrees is better than storing wine in an area that has frequent temperature fluctuations, even if those changes stay within the recommended 45 to 65 degree range. Wall Street Journal writers, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, have a “wine cellar” in their Manhattan apartment: a closet that maintains a steady temperature of 65 degrees (“Tips on Storing Wine”).

Other Wine Storage Factors

Light, like temperature, should also be controlled. Exposure to UV rays can prematurely age wine, which is why wine bottles are not clear. Incandescent bulbs are a better choice in your wine storage area as fluorescent bulbs emit a bit of UV light.

What about humidity? Like temperature, you don’t want to store wine in a place that’s too dry or too wet. Humidification between 50 to 80 percent is ideal, and that’s not hard to achieve – it’s the same level you probably have for your own comfort level.

As for sideways storage, that’s important if you’ll be keeping the wine for years. If not, or if the wines have synthetic corks or screw top closures, horizontal racking isn’t necessary. However, horizontal storage is an efficient space saver.

A Wine Cellar of a Different Kind

Chateau Maris in southern France has a cellar that meets all of the criteria and then some: It maintains a stable temperature without air conditioning or heating, it’s energy self-sufficient, all natural, odorless, and carbon negative. And it’s constructed with hemp along with lime and wood. In Forbes’Another Reason to Legalize Hemp: Make a Wine Cellar with It,” owner Kevin Parker is quoted: “We had a beauty contest between various sustainable structures, weighing the pros and cons of each approach and decided to go with hemp and lime.”

The cellar may not improve the taste, but Chateau Maris is also a certified organic and biodynamic winery whose product is met with critical acclaim.

You may not need to build a wine cellar from hemp to serve wines that taste like they’re supposed to. In fact, you probably don’t need to build a wine cellar at all. Simply follow the wine storage basics and enjoy.