If you're learning about and buying good wines, you probably already know that there are right and wrong ways to store your wines. Creating or choosing the right storage system can often ensure that a wine maintains its nose and flavor. The wrong choice, however, can result in permanent damage to the wine.
General Tips for Storing Wine
There are several principles to keep in mind when learning how to store wine in general: keep it cool, keep it dark, keep it still. A few other tips:
- Aim for a reasonably humid area (around 70% if possible)
- Avoid temperatures under 45 F and above 70 F
- If your wine has a natural cork, keep the bottle flat so that the cork remains moist
All of these rules are appropriate for all wines. Yet when you start breaking out storage requirements for white wines, red wines, sparkling wines, and fortified wines, you'll find that slightly different temperature and duration specifications can add up to a significant difference in a wine's performance, post-storage.
Temperature For Storing White Wines
Ideal storing temperatures for white wines fall into the 45 to 50 F temperature range, conveniently keeping within the parameters of the recommended serving temperature of 48 F for white wine. If you are storing red and white wine together, a cool 55 F is a happy temperature medium that will sufficiently accommodate both types of wine for long-term storage.
Storing White Wines in the Refrigerator
The question of storing white wines in a normal refrigerator comes up frequently. Keep in mind that your kitchen refrigerator most likely rumbles along at 35 to 38 F, considerably colder than a standard wine refrigerator. These frigid temps put your white wines at risk for having their vibrant flavors zapped right out, leaving behind the wine that is flat on the nose and flavorless on the palate. The typical kitchen refrigerator also holds a pretty hefty motor that causes constant vibration throughout the unit. Long-term vibration is a contentious enemy of wine.
How Long To Store White Wine
The vast majority of the white wines (and red wines for that matter) are intended to be consumed within 2 to 3 years. In general, most mass-market white wines are freshest upon release and are best opened as close to their vintage year as possible.
Where To Store White Wines
Wine storage has presented plenty of problems for numerous cultures over the past few millennia. Ancient Greeks added honey to avoid spoilage, while later Europeans fortified their wines with brandy. These efforts were successful, but of course, they radically changed the composition and flavor of the wines.
Thankfully, today we have a variety of options for properly storing wine, ranging from the economical, cool basement to the readily-available wine refrigerator units and climate-controlled wine cabinets, all the way to a full-blown cellar. While the choice for storing your wines depends on your budget and available space, by keeping the wine storage basics of cool, dark, still and sideways in mind, you'll find your wines presentable when it comes time to serve them.