Whether you’re just beginning to explore the world of wine or are a decades-long collector, the issue of wine storage has likely crossed your mind.
While storage is important for getting the most out of your wine, it’s also important to strike a balance: You definitely want to get the broad strokes right, but don’t want to worry so much about storage that it lessens your enjoyment of your wine. Here are a few general tips to help you accomplish that.
Finding a Space
Reader’s Digest’s guide on storing wine spouts this advice: “The best place to store wine in your home isn’t necessarily a particular room, but rather wherever the storage conditions are optimal.”
So, what are optimal conditions?
- Temperature: Cool, between 45–65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Humidity: Moderate, between 50–80%
- Brightness: Relatively dark
Depending on your home’s layout, many rooms could fit those requirements, but closets often work well. More serious wine collectors may want to invest in professional storage systems; however, casual drinkers can get away without such investments.
Vertical or Horizontal?
Standing bottles upright or laying them on their sides may seem like just a question of how they fit best, but wine experts advise that orientation does make a difference, at least for bottles with corks (instead of screw-on tops).
According to The Globe and Mail, corked wine bottles should be stored horizontally. That’s because wine coming into contact with the cork helps keep it from drying out. Bottles with screw-on tops can be stored either way with no adverse effects. Wine storage racks are a great way to store your wine in a space efficient manner while keeping the bottles horizontal.
Wine is meant to be enjoyed, not painstakingly categorized or alphabetized. A simple organization scheme can help you keep track of wines without overwhelming you.
Wine experts Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher implement this one: “American wines on the left—Cabernet in a couple of rows, Pinot in the next and so on—drinkables on the far right, dessert wines straight ahead.” Whatever’s in your particular wine collection can be organized in simple “chunks” much the same way.
“Aged like fine wine” is one of the most common cliches out there, but the truth is, aging is less important to many wines than the cliche suggests. That’s because advances in winemaking have lessened the need for long aging periods.
Matt Kramer, writing for Wine Spectator, advises that “Today’s wines are far more drinkable, far more gratifying, far more rewarding when drunk younger than their counterparts of 20 years ago.” Some wines still reward aging, but for many, it provides diminishing returns and delays your gratification even further.
The most important thing to keep in mind about wine storage is that it should make it easier for you to enjoy your wine–not harder.
Don’t spend so much time worrying about perfect wine-storage conditions, organization, or aging that you lose any of the joy that comes with wine.
Keep in mind the broad ideas above–such as cool, dark rooms and simple organization–and you’ll find wine storage to be an enhancement of your hobby instead of a burden on it.