6 tips for storing wine at home

close up image of horizontal bottles of wine

Jenna Meade

Posted August 03, 2021


 Pro tips to ensure your top drops get better with age.

Wine is not only delicious but also delicate. Taking care of your curated collection, and diverting any potential problems, begins with proper storage at home.

Whether you’re new to wine collecting or you’re a seasoned pro with an impressive home cellar, there are ways to ensure the lifespan - and taste - of your prized possessions.

We asked RACV Club sommelier Christian Maier to talk us through how to store wine at home - and for his expert tips on building your bounty.

Start with suitable surroundings

While a cellar or wine fridge are optimal environments to store your stockpile, they’re not essential. Instead, you may already have what you need around the house, like a cupboard under the stairs in a cool room, or the insulated box your wine was delivered in. "Using a polystyrene foam box will keep the wine insulated against warm or fluctuating temperatures," says Maier. "My plea is, please don’t store it in your living room, kitchen, or garden shed where it's exposed to warmth and UV light."

Turn out the lights

Avoid direct light from both the sun and fluorescent fixtures. Sunlight can cause sulphur-containing amino acids to oxidise and change the flavour of your wine. “Oxidation is public enemy number one and decimates more wines than cork taint or any other vinous threats," Maier says. "When UV rays react with wine, it will lead to a light strike with unpleasant aromas of cooked cabbage in your glass."

Keep temperature steady

You’ll want not only a cool but also a consistent temperature. Maier adds that “in my French wine books, the ideal temperature was always 14 degrees, but in my experience, it can be anywhere around that but below 18 preferably." One of the biggest problems in wine storing or transporting is temperature fluctuation, so Maier's advice is to ensures yours is even, as “heat above 30 degrees will start to irreparably change the way the wine tastes."
 

red wine being poured into a wide crystal glass

Keeping the temperature steady ensures there is no change to the way the wine tastes.


 

It’s fine to mix and match

Red, whites and rosés can all be stored side-by-side. Maier says that while the same storing rules apply to all varietals, not all wines will react the same to ageing. “For a wine to last, it will require intensity of flavours, acidity, alcohol, tannins or sweetness,” he advises, “Cabernet sauvignon is one for the long haul thanks to its higher tannin levels, and shiraz can also do exceptionally well, but pinot noir usually less." The old rule of laying down wine no longer applies for screw caps, but corked bottles should still be housed horizontally, so the wine keeps the cork moist - and keeps the air out.

Check-in on your collection

Now we get to the good part. Be sure to schedule regular taste tests to assess your wine’s development. A Corvin is a handy tool for this, allowing you to withdraw wine with a needlepoint while replacing the space with argon gas, so you don't compromise the bottle. “Alternatively, open a full bottle to assess its evolution,” says Maier. “I have seen too many large private wine cellars with countless bottles that have gone past their use-by date – which is probably the saddest thing for a sommelier to witness."

Enjoy stockpiling your stash

Collecting and storing wine may seem intimidating at first, but it needn’t be. Maier says to buy varietals you like - and those that will do better with ageing so you can reap the rewards of patience. “When choosing whites, for example, riesling is your champion for long-distance because of great acidity, but chardonnay from a good pedigree can do exceptionally well too." He recommends Jeremy Oliver’s Good Wine Guide as a helpful reference point.

And one last important tip from Maier  - purchase more than you intend to drink in the immediate future. “Otherwise, it becomes the dynamic of a current account instead of a savings account – a problem I am battling with," he says. If we must!


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