Sometimes the world of wine can seem a bit daunting because of the overwhelming range of wines that are available, and the wine jargon that typically goes over the heads of the person who may just enjoy a casual tipple with their dinner. So for all of you wine lovers that feel like you lack the expertise, Le Cordon Bleu London are demystifying the topic by giving you this two-part series covering the wine essentials that you just need to know.
This second part of our Wine Essentials series will be giving you a quick guide to the best storing methods for your wine at home. After you have carefully selected and bought your wine you need to look after it to ensure that it tastes its best, and for this there are basic principles that you need to follow.
Storing wine at home
When it comes to wine storage, you first need to think about how many bottles of wine you want to store over the next few years. You may think it’s not a lot but if you have a bottle of wine twice a week, that’s 104 bottles a year, and if you host a dinner party every quarter then that’s an extra 20 bottles or so! Not to mention those times that you may give wine as a gift or have the odd friend round for a tipple. The quantities start to add up and that’s when you need to start thinking about appropriate storage space so that your wine remains in good condition.
Ideal conditions for wine
Whether you want to keep a few bottles of wine for drinking every day or whether you want to keep them for long-term ageing, when storing wine at home you must provide the best environment so it can develop perfectly. The most desirable conditions for storing wine are as follows:
- Temperature – This is the most important factor and needs to remain constant all year round ideally between 10°c and 14°c.
- Humidity – The ideal humidity is about 70%. If the humidity level is too high the labels may become damaged by mould, and if it’s too low, the cork may dry out and shrink, and the wine may evaporate.
- Light – Wine should be stored in a dark place as sunlight can go through the glass and ruin the wine.
- Ventilation – To keep your storage area free from stale smells which can affect the flavour of the wine, you should allow a small amount of air to circulate.
- Stability – It is best to keep your wines where they will not be disturbed by movement or vibration.
- Position – If you are storing wine for more than a few days, lay the bottles in a horizontal position. This keeps the cork in contact with the wine so it remains moist and prevents oxidation. If the wine has screwcaps then the bottle can be standing.
To avoid your wine becoming damaged or spoiled avoid storing in the kitchen or in an attic (due to the heat and humidity), avoid storing your wine near items that generate heat or cause vibrations such as refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, or in any rooms with under-floor heating or direct sunlight.
Wine storage options
If you don’t have the space to store your wine in a separate temperature controlled room, then you can use ready-made storage solutions such as wine cabinets, which are costly but ensure that your wine is kept in ideal conditions.
Wine storage cabinets are ideal for modest wine collections as they are self-contained, temperature and humidity controlled units, which vary in size, according to your requirements, and range from a small domestic refrigerator to a small room!
If you happen to have the space to convert a room or a dresser into wine storage, then you could consider creating a cellar for optimum storage conditions, by adding a separate refrigerating unit. You can even purchase a door already specially fitted with it. To regulate the moisture, you can install a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on the conditions.
Another option could be external storage, such as a bonded warehouse or with your wine supplier which would also be in temperature controlled conditions. For these you would have to pay an amount of rent per year depending on how much wine you have stored there.
Organising your wine
Even if your wine collection is small, it is beneficial to label your bottles and keep a record as it will be much easier for you to find, manage and maintain your stock. Simply mark a small tag with the wines’ details and hang over the necks of the bottles. Each tag should mention the year in which you bought it, and when the wine should be drunk by, to ensure no bottle goes to waste!
For larger collections there are cellar books and even readily available cellar management software that can make managing all of your wines a lot more simple.
So that completes the final part of Le Cordon Bleu London’s Wine Essentials series. Why not sign up to our Wine Essentials short-course, for an in-depth look into the fundamentals of this much-loved beverage. Or, why not read the first part in our series on good wines to buy.