It’s obvious. I love wine–red, white, sweet, dry, new and old. Many think the older the wine, the better, but that’s not necessarily true. Most wines produced today are made to be consumed within 3 to 5 years. However, if you’re looking to lie down some of your wines for longer than that, there are a few steps to take to ensure they keep well.
First off, keep your wine cool. 55 degrees is ideal. However, anywhere from 45 to 65 degrees is okay. Anything above 75 degrees for an extended period of time will hinder the quality of the wine. This is why the basement is a good storage area. Make sure the wine is in a dark corner and far away from appliances, such as the washing machine and dryer. These appliances give off heat and vibrations that will not let the wine rest properly. When wine becomes too warm, it expands and tries to push out the cork. When the temperature goes back down, it contracts and compromises the cork, so keeping a consistent temperature is ideal. Sometimes you will see that some wine has seeped out of the bottle. This is not a sure sign that the wine has gone bad. However, you may want to reevaluate where you are storing it.
Secondly, the darker the storage area, the better. Though many of us like to see the color of the wine in the bottle, a darker bottle is best. When UV rays come into contact with the wine over an extended period of time, the wine will mature at a faster rate. Winemakers use darker bottles and sometimes even wrap the bottles in paper to ensure the least amount of light is getting in. Fluorescent and sunlight are the worst while light from a halogen bulb is kindest.
Lastly, always protect the cork. Laying bottles down ensures that no air will get into the wine. When you lay the bottle down, the wine is pressed up against the cork, securing it. However, I must note that storing your wine in a relatively humid area helps keep the cork plump, preventing it from drying out and crumbling.
I have many friends who, like me, want to lay down bottles produced in the years their children were born and enjoy them with their children when they come of age. Keep track of your child’s vintage, and follow what the experts say. For instance, the year my daughter Margaux was born, 2013, was a terrible year for red Bordeaux but a terrific year for the sub-region of Sauterne that produces amazing sweet dessert wine. If I can acquire a bottle of 2013 Chateau Yquem, and follow my own steps by keeping the bottle in a cool, dark, temperate atmosphere, I will enjoy it with her on 06-10-34.
Though many of my wines will rest for years, I beg you to make every day special and enjoy your wine sooner rather than later.