One of the most consistently asked question we get at Virgin Wines is ‘how do I store my wine?’ Today we’re going to look at wine storage and the options available to us all.
There are a few things you need to take into consideration and I’ve suggested a few things to help you out.
1. Where to store it – you don’t have to spend a shed load of cash on a temperature controlled unit, if you can then great, but whether you live in a one bed flat, terraced semi, old-school cottage or large detached dwelling there are suitable options for all. All you need to do is select a suitably sized alcove, take up the base of a storage cupboard or clear out some of the junk under the stairs! All of these places are ideally suited to putting in a wine rack and provide a good place to start that collection. Remember that you need to store your wines on their side so that if they have a cork closure the wine stays in contact with the cork, stopping it from drying out.
2. Temperature – the ideal temperature for storing wine lies between 10-13°C and the more consistent it is the better. Central heating (or the lack of !) means that houses naturally have lower and higher average temperatures than this but to be honest you should be able to select somewhere that doesn’t exceed 15°C and doesn’t go below 0°C without too much trouble. Temperature fluctuation is the biggest problem you need to avoid. If your wine is stored next to a radiator, boiler room or pipes that have hot water running through them, then the wine will expand and contract as the temperature rises and falls. The overall result is bad. You will basically cook your wine whilst the temperature is high and it will then contract during the cool periods. So avoid places where the above apply.
3. Movement – whilst a wine is being stored it’s important it doesn’t get subjected to a whole load of movement. The idea is that it gets to rest in a nice still position. Kind of sleeping like a dormant volcano. Incessant moving will distress your wine and it won’t develop as it should and will likely disappoint upon opening.
4. Sunlight – make sure you keep your wines out of direct sunlight. If they can be stored in complete darkness then great, but avoiding direct sunlight is imperative. It will seriously harm it, especially over prolonged periods.
A few guidelines -
By the most part the wines we buy are intended for immediate consumption or over the course of the ensuing months, say a maximum of 12 for whites and 18 for reds. And rightly so, as these wines are ready to drink right away and won’t generally improve with any mid to long term cellaring. You can’t obviously put them in the wine rack and they’ll lie there happily enough for a time, but don’t expect them to transform into something a whole lot more complex. The main purpose of cellaring wine is that it matures and develops into something wholly more exciting than it was when you first tucked it away. It goes without saying that some wines are more suited to this process than others, and as a rule of thumb the more expensive the wine the longer it will cellar for. Longer term cellaring wines begin at circa 12 pounds, but you should always bear your personal taste preferences in mind when considering putting something into storage. Do you prefer wines to be fruit forward and fresh or more evolved, showing more complexity but evolved fruit flavours?
A good option is to buy two of something. Drink one soon-ish after purchase and the second sometime down the line. If you keep notes, or have a better memory than me, you’ll stand to learn a great deal about how wines develop and also more about your personal preference in terms of wine style.