Even casual wine drinkers can benefit from proper care of their bottles, and with the aid of technology, it's now easier -- and cheaper -- than ever. Here are some easy steps to setting up proper wine storage at home, and some recommended gadgets and apps to maximize enjoyment of your purchases.
Wines are living things, and even an inexpensive bottle bought to consume immediately deserves proper treatment to bring out its best qualities.
Here are some tips we've picked up along the way, along with the best ways to execute them.
1. Choose Your Location Wisely
Wine should be protected from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, and kept away from light. Ideal temperatures are between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. There are plenty of high-tech wine coolers around, but if you're not a hardcore, hundreds-of-bottles collector, anywhere with a moderate, constant temperature and no light will be fine.
The easiest way to avoid light is to store your collection in a cabinet, a closet or a basement. Avoid heating vents and if possible, places where the sun hits directly.
2. Avoid Vibration From Appliances
Collectors warn against vibration, which can stir up sediments and mess with the wine's suspension. Common sources of vibration include refrigerators and washing machines, so steer clear, and try to not move the bottles around before taking them out to drink.
3. Pay Attention To Bottle Storage
Cork stoppers can dry up and rot or let air into a bottle if the bottle is not stored horizontally. Bottles with rubber corks can be stored upright, but with temperature control is especially important as they might not expand and seal the bottle in the same way as a cork stopper.
Cheap bottle racks abound. Ikea has some dirt-cheap options, and you can also check out these DIY options via Instructables.
4. Keep A Record
Even if you're not a hardcore collector, you still want to get the most enjoyment out of your purchases as possible. Not all wines are great for aging, and it is possible to age wines for too long; when they've passed their peak, they won't taste as good.
An easy way to keep track of what's in the rack is to stash a little logbook alongside your bottles. Write down the dates you purchased the wine, and record any food pairings or notes. This makes it much easier to grab something for dinner without any fuss (or Googling). You can also write down your impressions of the wine after drinking, to help you decide if you liked it enough to buy more.
Some high-tech alternatives to a pen and notebook include iPhone apps like Drync Wine and Wine Snob (despite the name, no snobbery is required), Android apps like Swirl and Wine Guru, or this RFID-enabled wine rack, which reads information off chips attached to each bottle.
5. Know Your Stuff
So, how long should you be storing bottles? Here's a guide via A Time 4 Wine:
If you're not a collector, generally speaking all wine can be consumed within a year after purchase. Cheaper wines should be consumed within six months to a year.
- Cabernet Sauvignon, $12-15: 5-6 years
- Cabernet Sauvignon, $25: 7-15 years
- Merlot, $12-25: 3-4 years
- Merlot, $25: 5-12 years
- Syrah/Shiraz, $12-15: 3-5 years
- Chardonnay, $12-15: Consume within 5 years
- California Riesling, $12-15: Consume within 3-4 years
6. Serve and Enjoy
Now we come to the best part of buying wine -- getting to drink it!
There are a lot of cozy rituals involved in the drinking of wine, and here are some gadgets to help you enjoy it even more:
- For an easier time at the dinner table, check out these electronic wine bottle openers.
- Wine reacts with oxygen in the air, and its flavors are enhanced and drawn out by the process of aeration. The Vinturi wine aerator ($25) is a clever little product based on Bernoulli's Principle, which draws in air to mix with the wine as it's poured.
- This battery-free clip on wine thermometer ($42 from Nova) measures the temperature of your bottle, telling you whether it's in the optimal range for the type of wine being served.
And after the party, you can make a DIY wine glass chandelier. Voila!
So, what's your home wine setup like? Let us know, and share your tips and tricks in the comments.
(Top image: Flickr member andrewgaijin licensed for use under Creative Commons. Wine cellar: Flickr member Panoramas licensed for use under Creative Commons. Wine splash: Flickr member madpoet_one licensed for use under Creative Commons. Storage rack: Notebook: Flickr member brianjmatis licensed for use under Creative Commons. Notebook: Flickr member Benjamin Ellis licensed for use under Creative Commons. Dusty bottles: Flickr member xrrr licensed for use under Creative Commons. Vinturi: Flickr member vincen-t licensed for use under Creative Commons)