Of course, some people don’t store wine. They just drink it, and their snazzy, granite wine racks just collect dust. However the rest of us build up a collection over time. We cogitate and salivate over the day when we’ll enjoy the great bottle that we found, but if stored improperly, all that daydreaming will be for nothing. How you keep a wine changes its flavours greatly. So here’s our recommendations for storing your prize plonk in peak condition.
The Best Way to Keep Wine
- A cool and constant temperature – but not refrigerated
Find a room which stays between 10 and 15∘ throughout the year, as fluctuations on either side will spoil the wine. This is why an underground cellar is a great choice, and the kitchen is a really bad one.
- On its side
this ensure that the cork stays moist, and puffed out against the neck of the bottle. The air is kept out so it can’t spoil the wine.
- In the dark
Keep the wine’s flavours safe from the damaging effects of lighting.
Terrible Ways to Store Wine
- In warm, strong light
either sunlight or artificial light will heat the wine. This ages it, creating really unpleasant stale flavours. Artificial light in particular creates bad flavours in a few wines.
- In the boot of your car, by a generator – anywhere that vibrates
the wine is a living product. The bacteria that remain in the bottle help to mature its flavours, and continually disturbing them as well as breaking down flavour compounds with vibrations is not going to help.
- In a fridge
Keeping your wine here for a long time will see corks become hard, and inelastic. They stop working as effective seals. As a result, air gets into the bottle, and the wine grows rancid. Yuck! What’s more, it’ll take the sparkle out of your fizz as well.
Out of contact with the wine, the cork dries out, and lets in air. Again, the wine oxidises and becomes undrinkably awful.
Odd But Wonderful Methods for Keeping Booze
- In 2010, Veuve Clicquot Champagne was recovered from an 1840 shipwreck
It had spent 170 years in the dark, at high pressure, and just above freezing, which together had saved the wine’s flavours. Lab testing showed that the drink was still drinkable. Surprisingly, it showed that Champagne from the early 19th Century was sweeter than even some dessert wines today, and an expert described the bottles as ‘fabulous’. It had tobacco, oaky, leathery flavours as well as fruit and floral characteristics, with a very, very long finish. There were even small traces of bubbles left over. At auction, the bottles sold for over €100k each.
- In 2011, experts drilled in Antarctica in search of whisky
This wasn’t some kind of naturally occurring spirit, but bottles left behind by the explorer Ernest Shackleton and his team from a hundred years before. The whisky, from Whyte and Mackay, was in excellent condition, but no-one was allowed to taste it. Instead, it has been returned to Shackleton’s hut in the freezing South Pole.
- Greek winemakers are experimenting with seabed maturation
The process enhances the flavour of wines from the Assyrtiko grape as compared to bottles aged in traditional wood. The wine takes on an interesting smoky character. Yet it keeps it youthful flavours, and all because storing underwater eliminates any contact with oxygen.