How to store wine

Whether it’s a cheap bottle of mass-produced ‘plonk’ or a vintage case of Grange Hermitage, your wine needs to be stored correctly to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Most wine purchased at retail outlets is drunk within 48 hours of it being bought. But if you’re planning to start a cellar or order a few cases from a wine club, it’s important that you store it correctly to preserve the wine’s quality. Here are some tips:

Store it in the dark

Store all wines away from light, especially direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting. UV rays can cause wine to be ‘light struck’ and give it an unpleasant smell.
If you can’t keep a bottle entirely out of the light, wrap it lightly in a cloth or put the bottle inside a box.

Store corked wine bottles on their sides

While Stelvin bottle tops are becoming more popular, there are still many wines, particularly European varieties, that use cork to seal the bottle. If you store a cork-sealed bottle upright, the cork can dry out and let air into the wine, spoiling it through oxidisation.

Store the bottles on their side, preferably with the label facing up. This should make it easier to spot any sediment in the wine when you do pick it up.

Keep the temperature constant

For extended ageing of wine (more than one year), refrigeration is essential, particularly in tropical Queensland. It is worth investing in a wine fridge if you are serious about preserving your wine for long periods. An ideal average temperature for a wine collection is 12.2 degrees Celsius.

Temperature in a wine storage area should be as constant as possible, with any changes occurring slowly. The greater the changes in temperature, the greater the premature ageing of the wine from over-breathing.

Don’t move the wine around

Store your wine in such a way that you don’t need to move the bottles to reach them when you want to drink one. The more the bottles move, the more the wine could degrade.

Keep humidity at about 70 percent

Try to keep the humidity at 70 percent. High humidity keeps the cork from drying and minimises evaporation, but if the humidity level is too high, it will encourage the growth of mould and cause labels to loosen.

Don’t store with other food items

Wine breathes, so don’t store it with anything that has a strong smell, as the smell will permeate through the cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation also helps prevent musty odours from entering the wine.

Store for an appropriate time

Not all wine improves over time. Red wine can be stored and aged for anywhere between two and 10 years. This depends on the type of red wine and the balance of its sugar, acid and tannins. Most white wines should be drunk after two to three years of storage. If you’re not sure, ask the winemaker or your wine retailer for advice.