When it comes to wine, we know that it can have incredible ageing potential. When stored correctly, almost any wine can hold for at least three years after vintage, whereas some premium reds can be stored for decades before falling flat.
Wine is traditionally kept in a cellar. This age-old storage unit creates the perfect conditions for optimal ageing of wine in the cellar. You don’t need a dark cellar in your basement to properly store your wine. There are plenty of ways to imitate the conditions of the traditional wine cellar.
Bad cellaring conditions open the door to an array of elements that are out to diminish your wine. Below is a checklist of things to have in place when cellaring your wine, and what could go wrong if you don’t.
1. Keep it in the dark
Wine ages best in the dark. The harmful UV rays of the sun can cause a wine to become ‘light struck’, a phenomenon that gives the wine an off smell. Fluorescent light can have the same effect, so if you have to expose your wine to the light, be sure to wrap it in a cloth, or just keep it in a box.
2. Wine with corks go on their sides
It’s best for the corks to keep moist at all times. If they stand upright for an extended period of time, the corks may dry out and air will eventually get into the wine, ultimately spoiling it.
3. Keep the temperature constant
While most people don’t think twice about storing their white wine in a fridge, many are entirely sided against doing the same with red wine. Think again! In most parts of world, it is too warm to safely store your wine in room temperature. Refrigerating your wine protects it from oxidisation. Anything under 24’C is safe.
4. Isolate your wine
Don’t store your wine close to things with strong smells, like garlic or cleaning supplies. The cork is permeable, the scent will seep through and result in a tainted wine.
5. Store for the suggested amount of time
Most labels suggest the ageing potential of the wine. If the wine is stored for longer than the suggested time, it could get oxidised, corked, or just loose all its flavour. While some wine gets better with age, it still has an expiry date and won’t keep well much longer after that.
6. Adjust the temperature before serving
Different wines display their nuances best at different temperatures. Here is a guide to the appropriate serving temperature of different wines:
· Blush, rose, dry white wines: 8-14’C
· Sparkling wines, MCC & Champagne: 6-8’C
· Light red wine: 13’C
· Deep red wines: 15-19’C
Here are a few guidelines to how long an opened bottle of wine will keep:
Opened White Wine
An opened bottle of white wine will keep for 3-5 days in a cool, dark closet, cellar or in the fridge.
Opened Red Wine
As long as you can reseal the bottle with a cap or cork, an opened bottle of red wine can keep for up to 2 weeks after opening. Just ensure that you still follow the cellaring guidelines.
Port, Sherry and other dessert wines can be kept for longer. The high alcohol level protects the wine from degradation. The exact time you can keep it for depends on the individual wine though.