Expat Advice: Storing Your Wine at Home
Many of us like to buy wine and store it for a special occasion: an amazing dinner, or just for a day where we would like to enjoy a lovely glass with that special person, with friends, or good neighbors. However, we find that sometimes the wine that we have purchased has gone bad and we ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?” and “What can I do to preserve wine properly?” Storing your wine at home is an easy-to-understand science.
Wine has a life, we ought to appreciate its uniqueness. Any wine connoisseur will tell you that wine becomes part of our soul, even part of our identity, and all the hard work of the vineyards to produce this unique drink that gives us a special sense of enjoyment when we need it most.
However, the best way to store wines at home is not necessarily an expensive wine cellar, but following a simple, low-cost strategy.
Five Tips of How to Store and Preserve Your Wines
The proper location to keep your wines at home, whether it is an apartment or a house, is in the southeast part of your home. This is because of when the sun rises and sets, you avoid exposing your wine inventory to too much sunlight. With stable humidity, this will prevent your wine from going bad at a rapid pace and will best preserve the culture of your wine.
Temperature is very important. Too much heat or extreme cold will cause the wine to die or, in other words, to go sour like vinegar.
There is also the question of where you live: At sea level, the temperature will be hotter than if you live in the mountains, especially here in Ecuador where the change in climate can occur in a matter of hours.
The proper temperature to store wine should be stable at 55°F/13°C.
This temperature is easier to maintain in the mountains, like in Cuenca or Quito, unlike in the coastline area or at sea level, which can be harder. This is where the location (noted above) and having proper air conditioning in the house helps. Should you struggle with maintaining both conditions, you might purchase an electric wine cellar that will help to maintain a regular temperature for your wines.
I consider humidity a very important aspect of wine storage. But why? Well, humidity keeps the cork in optimal condition to seal the bottle properly. The humidity should always be around 70% to 75%. This will keep the cork humid and avoid oxygen from entering the bottle which, in the long term, will damage the wine. But what happens if you have higher humidity?
The more humidity in your house, the greater the danger that the wine will evaporate inside the bottle, creating oxygen or CO2 that will spoil the wine. Bacteria in the cork can infuse the wine and spoil it. A way to monitor and control the humidity is to use a hygrometer thermometer that can be found in hardware or wine stores. If the humidity is low, a means to increase the level is by placing in the space a small container with gravel or stones sprinkled with water or use a sponge soaked with distilled water.
With high humidity, you can use propylene glycol with distilled water in a jug which will control the humidity and lower it to provide a better balance to store your wine. For example, living here in Cuenca, Ecuador, because of the high altitude, the humidity is different as the weather is dry. This means it is important to keep a watchful eye on the hygrometer because the atmospheric pressure is higher and will cause the cork to be pushed out to the bottle.
Movement or Vibration
When storing wine, make sure that the location has no high vibration issues caused by traffic, trains, or similar disturbances.
These vibrations cause the liquid to mix with the impurities of the wine and will turn it bad.
Carry wines older than 15 years slowly and avoid strong movement to keep them pure.
Place it in a wine basket at a 45º angle to avoid the impurities of the wine to rise.
After opening, it is good to decant with a candle to avoid the impurities from coming out and for the wine to breathe.
The best way to store your wine bottles is in the horizontal position, this will allow the wine to settle. Keeping the cork humid and the impurities staying low preserves the wine for a long period. When storing wine in a vertical position, the cork is the first thing to dry out which will allow the oxygen to enter the wine, thus converting it to vinegar.
These tips will allow you to enjoy your favorite wine and will help you store your wines to keep them in a good state. It is important to note that, depending on the part of the world you choose to live in, the cost of wine can be higher compared to the United States or Canada. On the other hand, if you venture to Spain or Portugal, you will be pleasantly surprised by the low prices of excellent wine.
Comment about your favorite wine and how you may have faced any of the challenges I have shared.
by: Sebastian Vallejo