how to store wine

Think Before You buy: Is Retail Wine Storage Affecting Your Wine?

On a recent trip to a big warehouse club, I noticed some incredible markdowns on super high end wines.

"7"

A markdown is when the retailer lowers the price to clear out their inventory, making space for a product that they hope to sell more of.  A markdown is usually denoted by the price ending in the number 7.  For example, this store had 2001 Chris Ringland Shiraz on sale for $399.97.  A quick search on my smartphone revealed that the online price for this wine ranges between $550 and $999.  The 2001 Chris Ringland Shiraz was rated 100 points by Robert Parker and only 60 cases of this wine were produced.  I was very surprised to see it in a big warehouse club!

I looked at the bottle and started salivating…should I? Shouldn’t I?  How will I afford to eat for the next month if I buy this wine?  I looked at the bottle, standing upright in a Plexiglas enclosure with a lock on it.
Then I began thinking…about the proper storage of high end wines
How long has this wine been sitting upright?  What is the temperature inside the store? 70F?  Has the UV light shining down through the opaque skylight caused any negative changes in the wine? In Arizona, where I live, there is such a high level of UV light outside that you can almost get a tan sitting indoors off the secondary UV light!  Now, the store in question only opened last October, so I know that at least the wine hasn’t been in that particular environment for very long.  But where was it kept before hand?  At a distributor’s warehouse?  Unconditioned? Through the Phoenix summer, where temperatures regularly exceed 115 Fahrenheit, or 46 Celsius, for all my metric friends.  How was the wine delivered? 

truck trailer

How did the wine get here?

How did it get from the Barossa Valley in Australia all the way over to Phoenix, Arizona?  So many questions and the answers I kept coming up with lead me to believe that somehow this 100 point wine was not kept under ideal conditions, and therefore no longer a 100 point wine.  On the other hand…how sensitive is wine?  Do serious connoisseurs baby wine too much and spend too much money on unnecessary storage set ups?

This article was edited by Jon Troutman

Purchasing a Wine Fridge: What to Look For

wine rackThere comes a time in every wine lover’s life when they begin to consider storage.  Proper storage. Aesthetically pleasing storage.  Expensive storage.  Finding an appropriate place to keep our wine becomes an issue because, as a our enthusiasm for wine grows, so too does our collection.

Do you buy wine at a faster pace than you can drink it?  You need storage.  Are all the vegetable drawers and the bottom half of your fridge full of wine?  Yup, you need storage.  You’re not keeping your wine in a wine rack in the kitchen are you?
You’ve scoured the internet, looking for deals, becoming more confused than you were before starting the search.  I know I was.  Why are some fridges $250 and some $12,000?  Some brands seem to have negative customer feedback, but can those comments be trusted?  I know from my day job that people often “stack” the comment sections of their competitors with negative comments, and then praise their own products.  I’d like to think that I’m sophisticated enough to be able to tell, but maybe I’m not.wine storage
Common complaint comments about wine fridges include excessive noise, vibrations, temperature fluctuations, humidity control and last but not least, abysmal customer service.  People that know me recognize that one of my biggest pet peeves is poor customer service.  The kind of stress that comes from being on hold for what seems like an eternity, or in a redundant maze of automatic telephone options, will shorten your life span; I’m sure of it.  Paying too much is irksome, but not nearly as much as supposedly getting a deal, only to be left in a state of endless frustration.
That is why I am going to suggest that, paramount to the price you pay for something, is the expectation of service you have should something go wrong.  For that very reason, I ultimately decided to buy my wine fridges from Costco.  Regardless of whether the actual manufacturer warranties the item, Costco has a very good return and refund policy.  I once returned a camera I bought there after I had opened it. The second reason for my Costco purchase was that they had significantly cheaper options than anyone else.
My final purchase: two Vinotemp 34 bottle wine fridges for $189 each. Checking online the next best price is around $250 from an online vendor, of which I know nothing about. Maybe I’m just too lazy to read all 980 “comments” to figure out if they’re legitimate or not.
So here’s what I’m going to do:  I am going to keep you, dear reader, updated on my wine fridge journey and adventures.  Next update: removing the fridges from those big, old boxes!
Edited by Jon Troutman

How to store wine

I bought some expensive wine many years ago,

Nice looking wine rack, but is it good for long term storage?

brought it home and put it on a funky fake mahogany wine rack in the kitchen. I was happy with how my kitchen looked like the show model house, with the wine in the rack. Little did I know that when it came time to drink the wine two years later that the juice would taste like burnt mud. Why?? I spent $80, eighty hard-earned dollars on that bottle! Actually I just thought that the wine was crummy. I opened another, and the same thing!
The wine rack sat in front of the kitchen window, in my house in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The temperature inside the house is about 78F or higher for at least 6 months a year. So to save you the disappointment that I went through, here are a few simple tips..I will get deeper into proper storage issues in future posts

1. Light. Ultraviolet light is BAD. Experts agree that UV light impacts wine in a similar way to excessive heat, it can cause oxidation of the tannins. Do not let your wine sit in direct sunlight. Even secondary UV light can be harmful in the long-term so it is best to store your wine in a dark environment.

2. Temperature. Experts agree that 55F is ideal. If you store the wine too cold it impedes the aging process and if you store it too hot it speeds it up too fast. Anything over 70F is risky and anything over 80F is how you end up with burnt mud for $80 a bottle. The University of California, Davis has come up with a formula: For every 10F above 55F, the wine will age twice as fast. So if you store your wine at 75F it will age four times as fast as if you stored it at 55F. Not only that but when wine matures too fast, all of its fruity aspects are lost. Peter from Rose Hill Wine Cellars in Toronto Canada says “Storage at elevated temperatures more than 21°C (70°F) causes undesirable changes as various reactions are accelerated, but at different rates. The result is a lack of balance in the aging process.

Also in the Temperature category is Temperature Fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations can be harmful to the maturing process, even if the high temp is not over 70F. As close to constant is best. You will notice that most wine storage devices run in cycles so as not to be constantly running. The temperature may fluctuate between 52F and 58F, this is considered an acceptable range. Something else to consider is that although the temperature inside your wine fridge may be fluctuating, the wine temperature is fluctuating less.  That is because of the nature of liquid versus gas.  The temperature of air fluctuates more than the temperature of liquid.   Even so, Peter at Rose Hill says that fluctuations of more than 2° to 4°C (5° to 10°F) are undesirable. Something I find a little suspect in a lot wine fridge catalogues is the pictures of wine fridges in the kitchen. Nice under counter storage units placed right next to an industrial sized oven. Looks great, but how smart is that?

3. Humidity. Humidity is something to think about although not quite as crucial as UV and Temperature. 40%-70% is the ideal range. What you dont want to have happen, is for the cork to dry out. If it does, then cracks form in the cork and eventually air gets in the bottle and its game over. That is why experts recommend storing wine on it’s side. Too much humidity is not good because then your nice wine labels begin to bubble, and also there is the potential for mold to grow inside the bottle, especially if you leave it standing upright.

4. Vibrations. According to experts vibrations disturb the sediments in wine when alter the aging process. This is why most people would not suggest storing wine in a regular household fridge. If you stand a few wine bottles up very close to each other, you will hear them rattling in a normal fridge. Proper wine fridges are designed to limit vibrations.

5. Natural Ventilation. Adequate ventilation is important in order to prevent unpleasant odor build up and mold. Related to ventilation and odor buildup is you should not be storing wine in the same area as other things that have odors. Like food. Some experts claim that foul food odors can make their way into the wine. I for one do not want to risk finding out the hard way, so I am not going to be keeping any cheeses or garlic in the wine fridge, or keeping my wine in the food fridge for any extended periods.