We know it may be tough to think of storing red wine, as opposed to just drinking it right now! After all, there are so many ways and reasons to savor a good glass.
For example, on a recent Friday afternoon, wine consultant Elan Glasser sat on the coastal Rosenthal Wine Bar patio, looking at the Malibu shoreline. Briefly sticking his nose into a glass of a red blend, he inhaled the subtle hints of fruit before leaning his head back to be greeted by the ocean air.
When Glasser isn’t tasting wine or teaching visitors touring the Rosenthal vineyards four miles inland from the PCH tasting room, he’s storing hundreds of bottles in his Los Angeles home – plus or minus a couple depending on whether he’s popped some corks or traveled lately. He also generously shared his tips with us for storing wine while you let it age.
You can also check out our fun video on how to store your wine to maintain quality, courtesy of Frank ‘the Public Storage dude‘ and a couple of his vino-loving compadres.
Before Storing Red Wine, Research Age-Worthy Varieties
Most wines are made to be consumed relatively soon, so before you consider long-term storage it’s important to choose wine that needs to be aged—or is ‘age-worthy‘, as the wine aficionados like to say.
“Wines that are generally suited for aging are Bordeaux varietals,” Glasser said. “Almost all reds will benefit from 2 to 5 years of aging. Some reds will go the long haul, 20-plus years.”
“It’s the sort of thing you learn with experience, which wines are going to age and which aren’t.”
There has been an increase in wine consumption, and storage, in the U.S.: 913 million gallons last year, the highest on record, according to statistics from the Wine Institute. The popularity has snowballed in part due to reports of health benefits.
“The Baby Boomers expanded consumption and then their children, the Echo-Boomers, grew up with wine at the dinner table; and they also are now consuming wine since they are of legal drinking age,” said Gladys Horiuchi of the Wine Institute.
There are an increasing number of wineries in the U.S. to serve these consumers, and wineries in every state. With so many wines, it’s easy to get confused.
Fortunately, there online wine review sites and magazines that offer advice on how long a particular bottle should be stored for optimal quality. Please be sure to do your homework so you aren’t disappointed when you open that special blend you’ve been saving for your ten-year wedding anniversary, only to realize it’s past its prime.
Heads up: two-buck chuck isn’t listed. We checked…for research purposes.
Lay Bottles Flat When Storing Red Wine and Rotate Them
If you plan to drink a bottle of wine within three months, Glasser advised that you don’t have to worry too much about where and how you store it, as long as it doesn’t break or overheat.
For long-term storage, the key is to prevent oxidation, that terrible taste you get after drinking a bottle of Cab that’s been sitting open on your kitchen counter for a week. No one wants that. And by the way, how did you resist the urge to finish it off sooner?
“For longer term storage, you always want to lay bottles flat particularly when they have a cork,” Glasser said. “It keeps the cork hydrated. The wine in the bottle literally keeps the cork wet.”
If the corks dry out, the wine inside will be exposed to air and oxidize. Make sure you also rotate the bottles a quarter turn every few months to prevent the sediment from settling on one side of the bottle.
Choose a Cool, Consistent Temperature to Store Red Wine
When storing red wine, and some sweeter, high-acid white varietals, it’s best to keep them on the cooler side. Some experts suggest a range from 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The wine will not automatically spoil at higher temperatures, according to Glasser, as long as it’s not above room temperature – about 72 degrees – and as long as the temperature doesn’t shift often or suddenly, said Glasser.
Ever try to drink a bottle of wine you stored in your refrigerator and then left in the car for a while? Yuck.
In his garage, Glasser uses a terracotta wine storage system that lines one wall where he stores hundreds of bottles. The bottles are encased in the earthenware.
“Typically, the terracotta will retain the coolest temperature of the day,” Glasser said. “So if it gets cold in the middle of the night, it’s really slow to warm as the day goes on.”
He also recommends refrigeration, if possible, or placing wine in insulated boxes, and it’s also important to avoid extreme humidity.
“Too dry can also dry out the cork or if you’re in a place where it’s so humid that you might get mold and mildew, that’s obviously not good either,” Glasser said.
As long as you keep your red wine in a safe place – away from extreme weather conditions, light, and, perhaps most important, thirsty house guests, you should have a wonderful bottle to enjoy on a special occasion down the road. And aren’t all Fridays special?
Cheers to your new wine adventure!