6 Essential Tips on How to Store Wine for Years

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Row of wine bottles on a wood rack

A glass of wine makes the perfect accompaniment to a delicious dinner or celebration. For a major milestone, though, how incredible would it be to pull out a wine made years ago? Imagine popping the cork on a bottle from the year you got married to celebrate your 5th, 10th, or even 15th wedding anniversary? For wine lovers, this would certainly help accentuate the importance of the occasion.

Now, you could purchase a bottle of wine from the year you were married. Finding older wines, however, can be a bit challenging. They’re often in high demand and command a high price tag. Not only that, but there’s just something about pulling out an old bottle of wine and saying, “I was saving this for a special occasion.”

Storing a bottle of wine that you intend to drink several years in the future is very different than storing a bottle you plan to drink this weekend. Here are six essential tips on how to store wine that will help to ensure that it maintains its quality and tastes incredible on the day you finally decide to pop the cork.

1. Pay Attention to Temperature

While various conditions are crucial to ensuring that your wine stays protected and sound in long-term storage, the right temperature is by far one of the most important. In general, the ideal white and red wine storage temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Typically speaking, a few degrees up or down won’t make a difference. If your storage area is far too hot or too cold, though, you risk damaging the quality of the wine. Temperatures below 25 degrees will cause freezing. Those above 68 cause your bottle to age faster.

Another factor to keep in mind is the possibility of rapid temperature fluctuations. Your wine storage area should maintain a relatively consistent temperature. Exposing it to rapid changes may affect the cork, which could result in leaking or too much air getting into the bottle. Consistency is key.

2. Maintain the Right Humidity

Don’t be afraid of a little humidity. In fact, some moisture in the air of your wine storage area is preferable. Without enough of it, the cork in your bottle is at risk of drying out. Should this happen, air can get into the bottle and ruin the wine. You also run the risk of the wine leaking, creating a mess, and leaving you without a bottle for your special celebration.

High humidity levels, on the other hand, could affect the label. It may peel off, which ruins the aesthetics of the bottle. Even if you don’t plan on selling it, it’s certainly not as pretty to display. Another issue with high humidity is that it promotes mold. It won’t affect a wine that’s properly sealed, but it can also affect the label.

Generally, the ideal humidity for wine storage is between 60% and 70%. So, what do you do if your wine storage area doesn’t provide the right conditions? You can increase moisture with a pan of water in the room, or use a humidifier. Conversely, a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air.

3. Keep the Light Out

When storing wine for several years, you want to keep the bottle away from light as much as possible. While the glass is tinted to help filter out harmful rays, this doesn’t mean that no light can get through. Sunlight is particularly harmful. Just like they can harm your skin, UV rays degrade the quality of the wine and cause it to age more rapidly. No matter where you store your wine, make sure that the area is dark.

4. Allow Clean Airflow

While the cork seals the bottle, it’s still a porous material. Some air does get through and promotes gradual aging. For this reason, it’s imperative that the air in your wine storage area be clean. Strong odors can seep into the cork and then into the wine, destroying the aromas and flavors.

Keep in mind that if you do have to clean your storage area, you should avoid using cleaners with heavy scents. Even though you’re keeping the space clean, those scents can permeate the cork, too.

5. Turn the Bottle Sideways

Before putting your wine bottle into storage, check its closure. Many wine bottles have a traditional cork. Some newer ones, however, feature glass or plastic. If your bottle has a regular cork, don’t stand it up on the shelf. Instead, store it laying down on its side.

Keeping the bottle upright gives the cork an opportunity to dry out, which, as mentioned earlier, allows more air into the bottle and accelerates the aging process. Laying your wine on its side keeps liquid against the cork, which helps to prevent this issue.

6. Avoid Movement and Vibrations

No matter where you store your wine, you should ensure that there are no vibrations. Avoid areas like the laundry room or a closet adjacent to a stereo system. Even minor vibrations disturb the aging process, potentially accelerating it and ruining the wine. Vibrations may also keep sediment from settling in the bottle, leaving you with an unpleasantly gritty drink.

Another thing to note is that once you place the bottle in storage, you should avoid moving it until you’re ready to drink it. If you do need to put it somewhere else, keep movement to a minimum.

While it takes advanced planning and proper storage, uncorking a special bottle of wine from several years ago can be the crowning moment to commemorate a milestone event. It’s a moment everyone is sure to enjoy and remember for a long time to come.

Whether you’re looking for a wine to store for future use or you’re looking for a bottle to enjoy at a dinner party this weekend, JJ Buckley Fine Wines has wines to meet all of your needs. Our consultancy service can help you find just the right bottle and provide you with tips and tricks for proper storage. For more information — or to place your order — contact us today.