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How To Store Wine

Learning how to store wine is useful information, even for the vast majority of wine drinkers who can't seem to keep a bottle in the house for more than a couple of weeks. Aging fine wine is a complex science and art, but any wine lover can apply some basic principles to increase the quality of their wine purchases, even with just a small collection.

Wine Racks

You may be surprised to find out that wine breaths. If it has been corked, the cork allows a small amount of air to pass through it and this air effects the taste and quality of the wine. One of the primary rules of wine storage is to store it on its side so that the cork doesn't dry out. If the cork dries out, it will allow too much air into the bottle and the wine can go bad.

If you buy more than a bottle of wine at a time, wine racks are a good investment. You can store anywhere from a few bottles to many dozens all on their sides. Wine racks come in a wide variety of materials, sizes and shapes, so there is something for everyone's taste and budget.

Wine Storage Temperature

If you are wondering how to store wine bottles beyond a few weeks, you need to consider more carefully what temperature you store them at. At 75 degrees Fahrenheit and warmer the wine will begin oxidizing, which will eventually destroy the taste. 55 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a good general temperature for storing a varied wine collection. If the temperature descends below this, it won't harm the wine, but the wine won't mature as quickly. And of course, you don't want to freeze the wine.

Rapid and frequent changes in temperature are more harmful to wine than constant warmer temperatures (up to about 73 degrees Fahrenheit). Changes in temperature causes air to pass through the cork. With a sudden increase, wine is forced out and with a sudden decrease, air is sucked back in - the wine is hyperventilating. This is particularly damaging to red wine.

Other Wine Storage Considerations

Light: UV rays can cause a wine to go bad. Some wine bottles are UV protected, but not all. You should store your wine in a dark place if you are keeping it for a while, and never arrange your wine racks in a sunny location.

Movement. You shouldn't move the wine once it is in its storage place. Try to arrange your wine bottles so that you don't need to move them to reach the one you want. The wine is sleeping.

Humidity. The ideal level is 70 percent. Low humidity causes the cork to dry out (once again that lets the air pass more easily through the cork, oxidizing the wine.) Too high of humidity may cause molds to develop on the cork. You can use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your storage place.

Odors. Avoid storing the wine next to anything with a strong odor, because the wine can be affected by bad smells that enter through the cork. Ideally the locale should have good ventilation to avoid the development of strong odors.

The Wine. After all of this consideration of how to store wine, be sure that you select wine that is meant to be aged. In general these are going to be more expensive red wines. There are some white wines that respond well to aging, notably some Burgundies and Rieslings.

Now that you know how to store wine properly, be sure to learn how to serve wine, including the proper serving temperature.

How to Store Wine After Opening

If you have already opened a bottle of wine and want to store it for a few days, make sure that it is re-corked tightly. You can find attractive and fun wine stoppers that are handy in case you have thrown away the cork (or if, like me, you have a hard time fitting it back in the bottle). After that, what you do with the bottle depends on the wine:

  • White wine should then be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Red wine in a cool, dark place.
  • Only sweet wines, such as sherry, port, or muscat can be stored for more than a few days.
  • If you have a bottle of wine whose taste has gone off after a few days, don't throw it out. It is not harmful for you and will be perfectly fine for cooking for several days.

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