Few of us have the ideal storage conditions for wine – a dark, damp, cool wine cellar. The nearest thing to a cellar in modern houses many can boast is the dusty gap under the floorboards where we are more likely to find an ants nest rather than bottles of wine. So if you have no cellar, where’s the best place to store your wines?
Bottles of wine prefer to be kept in a place that’s constantly cool. Between 10 to 15ºC is ideal. A spare room with the radiator turned off is a good place and if it’s on the unsunny north-side of the house, even better.
If you’re unsure if your room stays this cool, buy yourself a maximum-minimum thermometer from B&Q for a tenner. Place it in your target storage area and then come back in a couple of days. The thermometer will record the lowest and highest temperatures – if it shows anything below 5ºC or above 25º then find somewhere else to store your wine.
Where ever your ‘cellar’ area is located use a wine rack or cardboard box to keep your bottles on their sides. Wine will then be in constant contact with the corks and this will stop them drying out and shrinking. A dried-out cork cannot act as an effective bottle seal. It will let in air and bacteria which will contaminate the wine.
If you’ve bought wines sealed with screwcaps or plastic corks (the back label will tell you), store the bottles upright. These man-made bottle stops don’t need to be kept moist and so can be kept in areas not wide enough to take horizontally-stored bottles on a wine rack.
Bottle collections numbering more than a couple of dozen will last you months, possibly years. Wines kept for more than six months in less than perfect conditions are in danger of becoming prematurely aged – fruity aromas and flavours can break down leaving an expensive tasteless waste.
You can avoid this by investing in a specially designed wine cabinet, an electrically powered humid fridge that simulates the damp, dark conditions of a cellar. Much better than any cardboard box – but they cost anything from £500 upwards.
PG Wine Reviews
The Big Mo’ Australian Viognier 2016
£9.99 Virgin Wines
Smooth and fruity white with a sharp edge. Expect flavours of peach, pear, orange and lemon. Really nice wine.
16 Little Black Pigs Australian Shiraz 2016
£9.99 Virgin Wines
It tastes of red cherry and treacle.
Bottega Vinai Italian Pinot Grigio 2016
£9.49 Robert and Speight, Beverley (plus other independent retailers)
A nice blend of flavours: apple, pear, melon and a bit of peach in the background.
Domaine Les Verrieres Les Sept Fontaines 2014, France
An interesting red blend that matches well to Chinese takeaway with its fruity and astringent flavours. Plum, blackcurrant, chocolate – plus that green taste you get from chewing a blade of grass. Needs food.
Taste the Difference French Cahors Malbec 2014
Cherry, milk chocolate and liquorice.