First off, I just wanted to say, Happy 4th of July everyone! I'm writing this before the holiday and I'm more than ready to consume my reds and whites this weekend. I thought this topic would apply for a lot of people back from the holiday weekend with their remnants of wine still semi-fresh. Typically, when I open a bottle, I tend to take the all or nothing approach, but there are times when I just want a glass and not the whole thing. I've been asked how to save/store wine fairly often and there are a few factors involved. A lot depends on the type of wine you’re drinking and the situation you're in, but here are the general guidelines...
Temperature: When storing both red and white wine, it's good to keep them in a cool (between 50 and 60 degrees F) place out of direct sunlight. If wine becomes too hot it will boil and nobody wants that. Heat is definitely a major factor when dealing with wine shipments during the summer months. Many retailers use their discretion when shipping wines during a heat wave. A common myth is that red wine is to be kept and served at room temperature; however room temperature has risen over the years. We recommend that the wine be stored at 50 degrees and served slightly below room temperature, between 60-65 degrees is good. The best method of ensuring this is by taking the wine out of storage 15 minutes prior to serving, that way it can warm up a bit. You don't want to serve it too cold either because it will diminish the taste.
Oxygen: It's important to understand the role oxygen plays when storing and drinking wine. Over time, as wines age, they are exposed to small amounts of oxygen. This leads to a more mellowed out, richer and flavorful wine, which in turn makes a more complex and smoother wine. At some point during aging, wine will hit its flavor peak and that is the best time to drink it. However, after the wine has hit this peak, more oxygen exposure takes away from the flavor and leads to a flat, lifeless experience. Knowing when to drink a wine is a whole different story, but generally wines that are on the shelves now are drinkable. If you’re looking for a good aging wine, ask the sales people at your retail store (or you can come visit me at New York Wine Co!!). To ensure minimal/optimal oxygen exposure to your wines, try storing your wine on its side. This keeps the cork moist, which makes the bottle airtight. If a cork starts to dry out, it will shrink and allow air into the bottle disrupting the wine.
On another note, when serving a big red wine it's always good to decant it for 30 minutes or so or use a large bowl like glass. Swish the wine around a bit to volatize it and it will come to life. The oxygen will speed up the flavor process and make a younger, tannic, more alcoholic wine fruitier.
Vibrations: I don't know where you live and typically, this isn't a major issue with home wine storage, but if you store your wines close to working machinery or next to a stereo system, the vibrations will disturb the sediment and harm the maturation of the wine. It also can cause the corks to shift and all other sorts of things. It's best to store your wines in a place where they can be left to hibernate in peace and quiet.
Now let's say you’ve opened the bottle and you want to save the remains. Completely understandable, after all, it's money down the drain if you don't at least try keeping it fresh. These days, there are a lot of gadgets you can use to keep your wine fresh and I'm sure many of you have heard of the vacuum pump deals. These are optimal and if you religiously pump, your wine can stay fresh for up to two weeks. Now if you're like the rest of us and don't have a vacuum seal, you can just re-cork the wine as best you can. Make sure that the cork itself is a bit moist so that it's still airtight and set the wine in your fridge on its side. The key here is to keep the oxygen out. You can even wrap saran wrap around the bottle for added protection. This will ensure that your wine will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
So there you go, it's ok to double dip in the wine world.
Callie Exas has just launched her wine career at New York Wine Co. in Manhattan. So far so good!
How to keep it fresh
- Reply by Philip James, Jul 7, 2008.
I really think that everyone should have one of the basic vacuum pumps at home. They cost around $10 and add a few days of life to every bottle you save.