Storing Wines at Home

Here are a few tips for storing your wines at home that should help you to enjoy them to their full potential.  Most importantly though don’t forget to drink them!  Arc Reserves provides tasting notes from many of the leading critics to help you decide when the optimum time to take out and drink your wine might be.

The most important factor to consider when storing wine is the temperature.  The ideal temperature to store wine at is a constant 12-13 ⁰C.  Excessive heat will cause a wine to age prematurely and can ‘cook’ a wine – damaging delicate flavours and aromas.  Wines aged more slowly can develop a greater complexity.   Too cold and it will prevent the wine from maturing and in extremely low temperatures it will freeze and break the seal.  Avoid storing wine where temperatures may fluctuate dramatically, such as the kitchen or near radiators, as this can also be extremely damaging.  Not everyone has a series of cool underground tunnels like Locke-King Vaults but a basement or an unheated under stairs cupboard can make adequate alternatives.

The ideal humidity to store wines at is 70%.  If the humidity is too low the cork will dry out compromising the seal and allowing the wine to age prematurely.  A crumbling cork is also infuriatingly hard to remove intact!  Too high and there is the prospect of mould which can damage labels but shouldn’t affect properly sealed wines.  Wines sealed by screw top are unaffected by the humidity.

Light Exposure
Wine is damaged by light at the ultra violet end of the spectrum.  UV light can cause unwanted chemical reactions to occur in the wine, reducing the quality and leaving it tainted.  Wines stored in clear bottles, usually used for white wines and sweet wines, are especially susceptible to light damage.  Wine with more tannins, like Classed Growth Bordeaux or Chateauneuf du Pape, are more resistant to these reactions.  Where possible store wines in a dark room or leave them in their case for protection.

Wines have traditionally been stored on their side, keeping the liquid in contact with the cork to prevent it from drying out and allowing air in.  A newer theory is that wines should be stored at a slight angle to ensure that the cork is also in contact with some of the air in the bottle.  This way as the air inside the bottle contracts and expands it is less likely to cause seepage.

A wine will age best free from the agitation of excessive vibrations.  This shouldn’t be too much of a worry when considering where to store wine at home but best to avoid resting it on top of the washing machine in the utility room.