If you like a good glass of wine, you probably have a stock of a few bottles at home. But chances are you’re keeping them in the wrong place. If you don’t have a cool, damp cellar or fancy wine storage unit, there’s only one place for it: under your bed.
A good wine is needy. It wants to live in a cool, dark place where the humidity stays consistently around at least 70 per cent. Any changes in temperature or odours horrify these sensitive sips.
It begs the question: Where should a good bottle of wine be stored?
“The biggest challenge is the temperature,” explains sommelier Peer Holm. If it’s stored in a spot with changing temperatures, then the wine ages significantly faster – and not in a good way. The changes tend to make the wine lose all its flavours.
But these days, hardly anyone has an old house with a suitably cool and moist basement that’s really perfect for storing wine.
The optimal temperatures are between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius, and a higher moisture level ensures the corks don’t shrink. With shrinkage, more oxygen is allowed into the bottles, which dulls the flavour.
The solution, if you live in a relatively newer home and don’t want to rely on electric devices for help, is to choose the option that’s least evil: “It should be a dark room in which no items with an intense odour are stored,” advises Holm. This at least protects it from large swings in temperature and the damaging effects of sun.
Avoiding odour is a huge deal. “Storing it in the boiler room that’s heated with oil, for example, is a no-go,” says Holm. “That’s how you make the wine lose its flavour.” The odour molecules get through the cork and into the fancy wine, robbing it of its pleasant taste within a week – a change detectable even by those without a good nose.
The laundry room also doesn’t work. Not only does the flavour get lost, but the often-changing temperatures and shaking of the washing machine also affect the wine. “A vibration-free storage area is important,” says Holm. Research performed on wines stored on cruise ships found that the taste had distinctly changed for the worse.
If you don’t have a basement, then the next best option is the coolest room in the house: “As the bedroom is usually unheated, it’s the best choice for wine,” says Ernst Buescher from the German Wine Institute. Consider storing it under the bed, where there’s space.
“One could buy a climatic cabinet, that’s the elegant solution,” says Buescher. The temperature-controlled storage device is available in various sizes and sold as a stand-alone or in versions that can be installed next to your regular kitchen cabinets or underneath them.
These aren’t exactly cheap, with price tags often in the four figures. But they do perform their one function incredibly well.
If you can’t offer any of these amenities to your fancy wine, perhaps the best solution in the end is just to buy it right before you plan to drink it. “Most wines at the store are meant to be consumed right away,” says Buescher. Storing them won’t make them taste any better. – dpa