Protect your investment! Whether it’s the wine you’re drinking tonight or one that you're storing for a few years, your wine will show its best for you if you treat it with care…and I’m not just talking about expensive wine.
Here are the steps I take to make all of my wine taste like “special-occasion juice”:
1. Storing Your Stash
Store cork-finished bottles on their sides in a cool place. Bottles fitted with a screw cap may be stored standing up. Ideally, wine is stored at 55°F. Temperature consistency is more important than a low temperature. In other words, it is healthier for wine to be kept consistently at 70° than at 55° in the winter and 80° in the summer. Keep those bottles away from vibration, direct sunlight, and a very dry environment. Whites can be stored in the fridge for up to a month. You don’t want a cork to dry out, and you don’t want the wine to taste like onions…remember, corks are porous.
Serving wine at an appropriate temperature only enhances the experience. White wines that are served too cold numb your taste buds. Served too warm, wine tastes alcoholic, and its tannins taste intrusive. White wine can be served “well-chilled”—about 50°. Take the wine out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you want to drink it. As it warms up, notice how the flavors come alive, the mouth feel becoming rich and addictive. Bold reds should be served at 65°. Lighter reds can be served cooler, and fruit-forward reds like Gamay can be served chilled like whites (see my “weather and wine” post). Sparkling wine is the exception to these rules. Serve bubbly nice and cold to soften its acidity on your palate.
3. Season Your Vessel
It’s wise to cure your glass before you imbibe. Pour a splash of wine into a clean glass, swirl the juice around to coat all of the surface area, and pour it out. This eliminates any soapy surface or musky smell the vessel may possess from cupboard storage. See my past blog on wine glasses to learn about choosing glassware.
4. Decant To Enhance
Wine is a living thing. Notice how the first and last sips of a glass or a bottle taste markedly different. Decanting the wine allows it to unwind more quickly and, unless it’s a very mature wine, enhances the wine’s flavors.
5. Save It For Later
To store an opened bottle, do the opposite of decanting by taking the air out of the bottle with a wine pump (an excellent investment at $10) and stick the bottle in your refrigerator…even if it’s red wine. In general, the lighter the wine, the less life it has once it’s open. A crisp white will lose its acidity overnight. Conversely, some big, young reds actually taste better after hanging in the cooler for a couple of days. Of course, you’d bring them back to “room temperature” (that’s 65° in wine-speak) for optimum enjoyment.
Tell us in the comments: How do you store wine? Are you deliberate with your storage or do you just put it wherever there's room?