Wine Storage 101: 5 Mistakes Beginners Often Make

While modern-day coolers and refrigerators make wine storage a lot easier nowadays, it’s important to note that it hasn’t always been that way. Long-time wine enthusiasts had much to learn to get this right before technology became advanced enough to produce the products we know today. 

Storing wine isn’t new; if you look back into history, thousands of people have practiced it for thousands of years. Many things may have changed, but there are tried-and-tested factors that still hold.

For example, you don’t need to have an extremely large cellar or space to store wine. You can work with what you have to safely and properly gather a collection of choice drinks in your own space. 

It may be a small corner in your home or a wine fridge installed in your kitchen island or bar. What matters is that you take the first step in putting more thought and attention into how you store these classic beverages. 

Before accidentally destroying your collection, you should take a refresher on what the experts themselves know as aspiring wine connoisseurs. Here are five wine storage mistakes new enthusiasts make and how to address them. 

1. Failing To Protect Wine From Light 

wine bottles stacked

Expert Wine Storage advises that wine should be stored in the dark, as UV rays can cause chemical imbalances in the wine, which can ruin it.

This is precisely why wine cellars are usually dark, cool, and situated places away from direct sunlight. It also explains why cellars were and continue to be popular wine storage options. 

Despite this well-known thought, some beginners end up displaying their collections within reach of sunlight.

For example, some place them in the middle of an open bar, where both light and heat can easily penetrate bottles and mess up the contents. They may mistakenly believe that the dark tint of the glass is enough to protect the drink.

If you’re seriously considering a wine collection, first look for a dark area in your home. A cupboard that is cool and neatly tucked away is a great starter choice. When your budget permits it, you can always upgrade to specialized coolers. 

2. Holding On To A ‘Special’ Bottle Of Wine For Too Long 

Second on this list happens when people overestimate the value of their vintage. They may say it’s a limited edition, a prized bottle from a special collection, a gift from someone dear, or a memento from one of their trips. 

Of course, you’d want to hold on to a bottle like that. But then, time flies by. You bring it out, take a whiff, and find it spoiled.

Beginners often think that wine tastes better when it gets older. While this is technically true, aging in this manner isn’t necessarily the right way to bring about that good taste. Only a small percentage of wine is meant to be held for a long time. Do your research first, or ask the seller if the wine is age-able before you add a bottle to your collection.

3. Storing Wine In A Very Dry And Hot Place 

cellar with elite wine

As mentioned before, basements are great for wine storage because they’re dark and cool. Don’t be like many other beginners who choose someplace warm and arid for their wine storage. Wine experts will tell you how heat is the number enemy of a vintage’s longevity. 

Ideally, the best temperature to store wine is between 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Aside from that, humidity always plays a huge role in the quality and shelf life of wine. Failing to account for these two factors can lead to the wine losing its aroma and flavor and going bad. 

As a rule of thumb, here are three main points you should remember when putting a wine storage together: 

  • The ideal humidity level should be between 50 to 70%.
  • If the humidity is below 50%, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • If the humidity is above 70%, use a dehumidifier.

Considering the points above, it’s easy to see why you should have just one storage location for your wine. This makes it easier to monitor the temperature and humidity levels, especially when the weather outside is shifting.

4. Placing Wine Above The Fridge 

Without a dedicated cabinet or cupboard, another well-loved area for keeping wine is at the top of the refrigerator. This is a big mistake, as wine is sensitive to vibrations. There’s always a chance that the bottles will simply roll over.

When you purchase wine, keep it inside the car and not in the trunk on the way home. The vibrations are strong in that compartment, so placing the wine there affects the drink’s taste and quality before you even arrive home.

5. Installing The Wrong Racking System 

For beginners who start with a comprehensive collection and have the space and money to do so, installing racking systems is usually the next thing to do. 

Before meeting with your builder, make sure you’re on the same page about the size and measurements of each rack. Many beginners don’t factor this in, so they’re left with ones either too big or too small for their collection. This makes their wine storage ineffective.

In general, most wine bottles are 12 inches long. Your rack has to fit that length. There are, however, longer bottles, like Pinot and Champagne, so be sure to have a few racks that also accommodate that length.

Are You Storing Wine Properly?

If you’ve long wondered whether or not you’re correctly storing wine, the list of mistakes above should also serve as your checklist. It’s okay if you’re guilty of committing some (or all). There’s always time to learn, and that begins now. 

Give your wine collection the attention and care it demands. All of your effort and investment will pay off with wine of the best quality when you serve it. Never question where to keep your favorite bottles again.

For more information about proper wine storage and appreciation, always turn to the experts.