If you are a true wine connoisseur, then you have a wine cellar where you keep your finest vintage Bordeaux. That’s a common misconnection when it comes to storing wine, and most people don’t have a large collection of wine that needs cellaring.
Having a glass of wine at the end of a long day with a nice steak or dark chocolate beats it all. Whether your choice is a bottle of Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw (commonly called “Three Buck Chuck”) or the vintage Bordeaux, properly storing your wine is important to maintain its quality. Listening to misconceptions could ruin the taste of your wine and the money in your wallet.
1. Myth: All Wines are Better Cellared, but not White Wine
Some wines do benefit from cellaring, but most wines aren’t meant for cellaring because their natural constitution wouldn’t let them age well for decades. Most wines on the market are meant to be enjoyed within the first five years of life. As wines age, they develop different bouquets of flavor, and some may not live up to your taste or expectations.
Those that believe all wines should be cellared tend to think white wine doesn’t age well. Some white wines do age well, such as vintage German Rieslings, Sauternes and Champagne. Yes, that includes some dry white wines. At most, ten years is the desired vintage, and it’s rare that wine would need to age longer.
Substitute “cellaring”: You don’t need to build a cellar for your wine. A stable and dark place will work well for storing and aging wine, which shouldn’t be too dry or damp. Keep your wine out of direct sunlight. A small closet or pantry is a great substitute for cellaring without the fuss.
2. Myth: Store Sparkling, White and Red Wines at Different Temperatures
One of the biggest misconceptions is that sparkling, white and red wines must be stored at different temperatures. For example, white wine is refrigerated and red wine may be stored out.
Wines are typically stored between 53 and 57 degrees, though when it comes to serving wine, temperature recommendations are closer to 60 degrees for reds and mid-50s for whites. This mild temperature will let the wine age appropriately if it’s meant to age.
Refrigerate by choice and season: White wine is refrigerated primarily due to taste preference, especially during hotter months. It is often lighter and refreshing, but not always. Refrigerating may bring out a white wine’s unique bouquet, but the same could be said of other wines. A small fridge is nice to control temperature to your preference when storing wine.
3. Myth: Wine Should Always be Corked and Stored Horizontally
There’s a charm to a corked bottle of wine that keeps with tradition, and face it: It makes you feel fancy. Wine doesn’t have to be corked to maintain its taste or to age well, but it was once true when there weren’t other options. Corks dry out sometimes, and storing bottles of wine horizontally helps prevent early oxidation. Stored screw top wine ages well, too, and may be stored upright.
Invest in a wine rack: If you collect corked wine, store it horizontally to prevent the cork drying out. Investing in a wine rack can save you space and money as an economical solution for wine storage. Remember, your wine collection doesn’t have to take up counter space, and a rack with sliding drawers will also keep your wine out of the sunlight and at its optimal quality.
Common misconceptions about storing wine may damage your wine at worst and waste your hard-earned money. Building a cellar when you don’t need one is also a waste of time.
Simple storage solutions include a dark space, such as a closet or shelf on your pantry or wine rack. Your collection isn’t small and pithy — it’s curated to your preference and taste, just as you should only refrigerate your wine during hotter months and if your palate demands. Horizontal storage is only necessary if your wine is corked.
No matter whether you prefer Three Buck Chuck or vintage Bordeaux, how you store your wine is up to you. Most wines are meant to be enjoyed in the moment, and life is too short to spend your life building a cellar you don’t need. Pop that cork, and place an extra for later on your wine rack worry-free.