The cold winter weather is upon us, and I thought as we hunker down this would be the perfect time to consider what you should do with your favorite beverage, wine, (OK, well it’s our favorite beverage) when the weather drastically changes in and out of your homes. Wine, like many other foods, is a perishable product. It is not something you can just put in your wine rack on the kitchen counter as a decorative piece, no matter how cheeky or pretty the labels, and let sit there for years. Wine is affected by many things with temperature, specifically variations in temperature, being one of them. Although not all of us have the desire or the funds to build a temperature-, humidity-controlled wine cellar, you should still think about what to do with your wine once you bring it home.
Drinking it is usually the best option, since most wine is meant to be consumed within one to two years. But whether or not you are able to drink your wine the night you bring it home or five months from then, the main components that you need to consider that can affect the quality of your wine are temperature, humidity, light and vibration, to ensure your wine doesn’t spoil and taste more like vinegar than wine.
Temperature. The biggest factor to consider with temperature is a dramatic temperature differences. If your home is subject to considerable changes between day/night and summer/winter temperatures then you are likely to spoil your wine. Wine should ideally be stored in an area where the daily temperature does not change by more than a few degrees. So, putting wines in a wine rack and placing it near the fridge, oven or bright lights is, well, not the best idea. Kitchens are the worst area in a home to put your wine. Sometimes the changes in temperature, because of heat put off by the oven or running appliances, can be 10+ degrees. And if you are like me and turn your heat down low at night well then again, the temperature change can be significant.
And don’t ever leave your wine in a car. Think of wine as food.
Humidity. Some humidity is good (about 70%) to prevent a cork from drying out. But overly high humidity for a prolonged period of time can cause a host of issues, including mold problems, specifically along the cork.
Light. Exposure to direct or strong light, including artificial and sunlight, is not a good thing. So make sure if you don’t have a specific area in which to store your wine that the 12 noon sun is not shining on your favorite vino. Also make sure that you don’t have it in an area where overhead lights will be beaming down on it.
Vibration. Keeping wine “still” is important, but more so for wines that you are going to store for an extended period of time. Therefore, a rack on top of a counter, over a dishwasher, or next to a furnace that goes on and off continually is not recommended.
If you don’t have a wine refrigerator or cellar in your home, then you are not alone. Many people do not. But what you will want to do to ensure your wine maintains its level of quality is find an area in your home where the temperature is consistent and somewhere between 55-65 degrees, has a decent amount of humidity, that is dark and free of vibration. Then you will be well on your way to enjoying what you have purchased.