Looking for home wine storage solutions? Here’s all you need to know about how to store wine at home
Unless you’re the kind of person who can’t keep hold of a bottle of wine for five minutes without drinking it (don’t look at me like that), you’ll want to make sure it’s stored properly to reduce the risk of impairment… or worse.
Obviously, this is especially important with a higher-end wine, where you’ll be hoping its delicately nuanced flavour profile will mature and deepen with time. Imagine the trauma of opening that Bordeaux you’ve been hoarding for two decades to find it tastes like a wet dog drenched in vinegar. I call it Rack Rage.
Conditions And Location
For years, I stored my wine upright in the corner of my kitchen. And why not? You want it to be within arms’ reach while you’re cooking, right? But unless you have a temperature-controlled kitchen, this isn’t the wisest choice — especially in the medium to long term. Because when sunlight enters the room, it’ll alter the wine’s temperature: and, like a pampered rock star, wine’s fussy about things like that. Strong light and undulating temperatures just put it in a bad mood.
The ideal wine storage temperature lies between 10 and 15°C, although storing it between 15 and 20°C won’t do it a great deal of harm. If the temperature drops below -4°C the wine will freeze, forcing out the cork, while above 30°C its volatile compounds may boil off, affecting its colour and clarity.
Lay your wine horizontally, in a cool, humidity-controlled, dimly-lit space that’s unaffected by fluctuating temperatures or vibrations. A basement is ideal, because its subterranean location is typically cooler than other parts of the house. But if (like me) you don’t have a cellar, a cupboard under a staircase makes a decent alternative — provided it’s not full of mouldy wellies and dusty Christmas decorations.
If you’re lucky enough to have underground storage, investing in a cellar cooling unit is the way to keep your wine on top form. Cellar coolers are different to standard home air conditioners, because they’re specifically designed for wine storage. They cool the air at a slower pace, while maintaining its humidity so that the corks don’t dry out, oxidise and damage your wine.
Contrary to popular opinion, connoisseurs will tell you that wine fridges are not always the best option for high quality wines. Why? They produce excess heat, and if opened and closed frequently, can cause bottle vibrations that disturb the wines.
Investing in good wine racks is essential for any serious wine collector. And what many people don’t realise is that the wine racking system you choose should depend on the types of wine you’re storing.
Standard wine racks are typicially 3.5 inches wide, just right for 750ml bottles, but if you’re storing irregular sizes (Champagne, magnums, half bottles, split bottles), you might need a bespoke wine rack fitted instead.
When shopping for custom-made storage, you’ll want to hire a specialist, as they’re used to dealing with bottle-size specifications, and can create storage solutions for a broad gamut of shapes and sizes.
When choosing a material for your wine racks, you’ll have to factor in durability, style and, of course, price.
The most common materials used are pine or oak, which both remain durable in humid rooms without the risk of mildew or cracking. With wooden racks, you need to ensure the material is thick enough to sustain the weight of many bottles.
Cheap wooden materials like cedar, fir and poplar are best avoided because they can taint the wine’s aroma. Likewise, while a finishing paint might look stylish, it can also affect the wine. Instead, use Danish oil or coloured stain to achieve your desired effect.
However, even oak or pine might not be suitable if your cellar is particularly damp. This is where a metal wine racks come into their own.
Metal racks suit modern interiors and are easily transported, although they can be tricky to achieve an exact fit, particularly in awkwardly-shaped or hard-to-reach spaces.
Finally, make sure the spaces that house your bottles are sufficiently smooth, so that labels labels don’t get damaged when you pull them out. It goes without saying that this can decrease a bottle’s value — cue another attack of Rack Rage.
For wine storage solutions in the UK visit www.wineracks.co.uk