How to buy and store wine

While which variety of wines are purchased is an individual choice based on many factors, the storage of wine is important no matter which wine is chosen. Good wine is not necessarily an expensive wine and even a good wine will lose much of its taste and character when stored improperly.

Whether purchasing one bottle or an entire cellar full, heat and humidity are the worst enemies of wine. Ideally, wine should be stored between 50 and 60 degrees, although a five-degree fluctuation in either direction is acceptable and will not significantly affect quality. Storing at very low temperatures will cause a slowing of the aging process for wines and too much heat will cause premature aging.

A constant temperature helps the wine to maintain its flavor and quality. Temperature fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and/or contract, allowing air to enter the bottle. A digital wine gauge, available at specialty wine and department stores is an effective way to monitor the temperature.

Humidity is a very important factor in preserving wine. Major wine collectors and sellers know that storing wine in conditions of high humidity can lower the resale value of the bottle simply by altering or damaging the label. Very low humidity can also dry the cork and cause air to enter the bottle, oxidizing the contents. The best conditions for storing wines are in dark, cool and medium humidity locations.

If a wine is to improve with age (and many do not), three important characteristics must be present and in balance. They are sugar, acid and tannin. These may be present at one time or in different combinations. Red wines improve with age more often than white wine and usually have more than one of the three characteristics present at one time.

Normally, a bottle of wine stored in a refrigerator for a couple of days loses little of its color and flavor. If storage is needed for a longer period, a better method is required. A wine stopper and pump may be used for longer storage. The stopper seals the bottle after the air has been pumped out. An open bottle may be stored in the refrigerator for about three days. Another method is preservation gas, which is sprayed into the wine bottle before replacing the cork. The gas preserves wine by forcing all the air from the bottle.

Light is also a consideration when storing wine. Even though wine is bottled in dark glass, this does not mean that it is safe from light damage. Wine bottles should always be stored away from direct sunlight, regardless of how they are bottled. If wine is exposed to light for an extended period, the chemical composition can be altered and the taste ruined.

When storing wine bottles, avoid storing them vertically. The best way is horizontally or at a 45-degree angle so that the wine has contact with the cork. When wine is not in contact with the cork, the cork tends to shrink and let air into the bottle, which ruins the wine.

When storing

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