Wine Storage Basics

So, you bought a couple of special bottles and you think you may want to age them?

Before thinking about laying them down in the cellar, it’s useful to remember that most wine is meant to be drunk soon after it is released. So, don’t plan on storing it for more than a few years after its purchase, but during that time, keep these simple rules in mind and your wine will thank you!

  1. Keep your wine at a constant (and comfortable) temperature. Cellar temperature is best (55ºF is ideal), but anything between 45ºF and 65ºF works. You don’t want to cook your wine (over 70ºF); freeze it; and/or have rapid, extreme, or frequent temperature swings.
  2. Keep your wine in the dark. Sunlight, specifically UV light, can damage wine and so it is best to protect your prize bottles while they are in long-term storage.
  3. Keep things steady. Significant vibrations can disturb sediment in bottles and can possibly cause structural changes to the wine to happen faster (the same way that higher temperatures do).

As long as you don’t live in the desert (or the arctic), humidity shouldn’t be an issue and corks will not generally dry out in short-term storage. Some even question the accepted knowledge of laying bottles on their side to keep corks moist (see Jancis Robinson article on wine storage), but tradition is hard to break!

For more information, check out these links:

Wine Folly – What’s the Right Temperature

Wine Folly – Earthquake-Proof Wine

The Wine Society – Practical Tips, Storing Wine