Friday, June 24, 2011

Buy to Store or Buy To Drink?

I was off researching another blog with a complete summary of the best “golden nuggets” on proper wine storage. Frankly it was a subject I just didn’t connect to personally so I kept putting it off.

Today I said to myself… Kathy, Just Do It! I started researching again and came across some tips that caught my attention. One such tip…

“If you’re like most Americans, we drink wine within 48 hours of purchase. That said if you do want to lay wine down then you want the coldest, darkest, quietest part of the house. That’s the best you can do. Modern refrigerators are built with dehumidifiers so if you leave the wine too long you will dry the cork out and risk the wine spoiling. You can leave the wine in the cellar but it warms up in the summer. So if you don’t have a proper temperature controlled room,
then just drink it.”

Since I’m NOT into delayed gratification, I related to this and also most wines today when release are ready to drink. I recently purchased 2 bottles of Goose Ridge Cab and immediately went home and opened the first bottle, promising myself I would hold on to the second. Well, my husband has always said, “Kathy, you can justify anything you really want to do” and tonight is Friday. I want the Cab!

Creating a proper storage environment is as easy as buying a refrigerated wine storage cabinet that controls temperature and humidity. You can also build a cellar or convert a closet. It just takes some time and $money$.

Or, consider drinking wine purchased within 6 months to one year and follow these few simple guidelines.

Store your wine sideways in a clean, cool, free of vibration, good ventilation, quiet, dark area with very limited movement and temperature variations. Also, safe from breakage and not stored with other items that have a strong odor which can taint the wine. An interior closet is usually a satisfactory solution. A lot to think about just for short storage.

5 Places You Shouldn’t Store Wine

  1. On top of the fridge — or any appliance for that matter.The heat from the fridge or microwave will cook the wine and make it completely undrinkable. Appliances vibrate. Opening the door can over time move wine racks into precarious positions.
  2. Near a windowsill.The area surrounding windows is likely the hottest spot in an apartment or house. Constant direct sunlight will overheat and spoil the wine.
  3. In the fridge for a long period of time. When you place wine in the fridge, you should drink it within the next couple of weeks. Why? Keeping wine at a chilled temperature long term can do as much damage as overheating it. Whites and sparklers shouldn't be left in the fridge longer than six months; after that, bubbly will start to lose its fizz.
  4. In the kitchen cabinet.Since the kitchen can get very hot (when the oven is on, a bunch of people are over for dinner, etc.), it's not a good place to keep wine long term.
  5. In a crystal decanter.In a surprising finding, scientists from Columbia University in New York recently reported that tiny amounts of lead began to migrate within a few minutes after wine was poured into many lead crystal decanters and wine glasses. Large amounts of lead were found in wine that had been stored for a long time in a decanter but the amounts varied widely among the crystal containers tested.
Since I started with 13 pages of notes, I’m going to end with the “ideal” long storage guidelines. Well, not really guidelines, these are rules to follow if you want those expensive wines to age properly and not be left with something you have to pour down the kitchen sink along with your tears.

Wine is alive and it breathes. As such it reacts either positively or negatively to its environment. How it is treated will determine how fast or slow it will age and how it will turn out in the end. In general, more expensive wines are usually designed to become better with age. Most inexpensive wines do not benefit from aging.

TEMPERATURE is the most important factor and the factor that should be sought after above all others. The optimum temperature is 50 to 55°F. However, any constant temperature within 40-65°F will do. More important than the actual temperature you will be able to achieve, is the degree and rapidity of fluctuation the wine is subjected to. A slow change of temperature of ten or so degrees between winter and summer is not a big problem. But this kind of fluctuation on a daily or weekly basis will cause damage to your wines and age them prematurely. Wines kept at too high a temperature will age faster than wines kept at a cold temperature. Theoretically, wines kept at 68°F will age twice as fast as those kept at 50°F. Finally, keep in mind that white wines are affected far more by temperature problems than red wines.

HUMIDITY is important so as to keep the corks in good resilient condition and thereby preventing them from shrinking. A relative humidity of 50-80% is the acceptable range, but about 70% is recommended. FYI: A home kept at 68F will generally have about 50% humidity.

DARKNESS Light will prematurely age a bottle of wine. Naturally, clear bottles are most susceptible to this problem, but ultraviolet light will penetrate even dark colored glass. Ultraviolet light may give a wine unpleasant aromas and ruin it.

CALM Wines should be stored in such a way that you don't have to move them around to get at a particular bottle. Once a wine is laid down, it should stay there until it is opened. It should be remembered that excessive sound creates vibrations that may be harmful as well.

CLEANLINESS AND VENTILATION The space should be free from smells and debris. Extraneous smells can enter through the cork and contaminate the wine. Proper ventilation will help with this problem and keep the cellar from giving the wine a musty taste.

ANGLE OF STORAGE Table wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist thereby preventing air from entering the wine.

Whatever your decision, Enjoy!

Cheers, Kathy

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