Wine Jones: Keeping it cool
October 30, 2008
Almost every wine drinker at one time or another will begin to collect bottles of one or more favorite wines. It is hard to pass up a “good” buy, or not to pick up a few bottles of that extremely delicious wine you found while visiting a winery. Although the majority of wines on the market today are ready to consume within six to nine months after bottling, there are quite a few wines that have the potential to evolve into a spectacular wine a few years down the line. The essential key to storing a wine for optimum enjoyment at a later date is keeping the wine cool and stable.
I see many homes using a cute wine storage rack in the kitchen area as part of the decoration. While pleasing to see, this is a certain prescription for altering the wine. Fluctuating temperatures, bright light and arid conditions in our alpine desert environment are damaging affects.
The ideal condition for a wine to retain the flavor profile wine is non-fluctuating temperatures. A cool storage area will allow the wine to develop in flavors and aromas, a warmer temperature will speed maturing and the wine will rapidly pass its prime and start diminishing in flavors and aromas.
The best temperature to store a wine is between 40 and 59 degrees F. Steady temperatures between 59 and 68 degrees are acceptable. Wine stored at below freezing can cause the wine to solidify and force the cork loose, which will result in oxidation of the wines. Adversely, wines kept for long periods at temperatures above 68 degrees will “cook” the wine, destroying many of the pleasurable characteristics.
Wine does not do well in light. Strong light can alter the flavor of wine. This is especially true for white wines and sparkling wines, where UV rays from sunlight or fluorescent fixtures can cause off flavors.
Keeping the wine bottle on its side will allow the wine to be in contact with the cork, insuring the cork does not dry out and shrink, which allows air to come in contact with the wine and spoil it. Keeping the wine still and vibration free is also a must; excessive movement will alter the wine, especially wines with sediment.
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High humidity, around 70 percent, will keep the cork from drying out. This is quite a task in our dry location. Keeping the wine bottles on their sides becomes even more important.
Finally, remember wines breathe, so do not store them near anything with a strong smell, which can permeate through the cork and damage the wine.
So take wine out of the wine rack on top of the refrigerator, or the storage unit on the kitchen counter, and move it to a cooler location in your house. You may want to dedicate a well-insulated closet that is away from the wood stove, or a dark cool corner of the garage. For those of you with the room and resources, your collection would benefit from constructing a wine cellar. There are many on-line sites where you can select shelving, and cooling units to fit space you have to construct a cellar.
For those with extensive collections, try a wine storage facility that provides ideal conditions under lock and key.
There are many wine refrigeration units on the market which offer optimum storage capabilities by just plugging it in. The key features to look for are the shelving design. Does it have duel temperature controls, for whites and reds? The glass door should block UV rays and there should be a humidity control. There are lots of these coolers on the market, at all price ranges.
There are many on-line sites where you can check out consumer reports which is a must prior to making a purchase, spending a bit more at first will save you from replacing the unit in a few years.
” Janice Jones is a Truckee
resident and wine consultant. You may reach her at