4 Ways You’re Ruining Your Wine Stash, According to a Sommelier

published Jun 18, 2020
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Over the past few months, I have acquired a lot of new habits—wearing a mask when I go outside, washing my hands after I touch anything, and staying six feet away from virtually everyone. I have also acquired a lot of wine. I’ve signed up for the wine subscription services and bought extra bottles while at the store to stock up and somehow, over the months, I’ve ended up with a small collection. But even though I have a decent amount of wine, I have almost no knowledge about what makes a good wine beyond personal preference. So when it comes to how to properly store wine, to say I have no idea where to start is an understatement. 

Luckily, though, there are experts like Chrisoula Papoutsakis to guide us through these predicaments. Papoutsakis is a certified sommelier and a real estate agent at Triplemint and shared some ways that you may inadvertently be ruining all that wine you have in your pantry (come on, I know I’m not the only one) by storing it incorrectly in your home. Odds are, you’re making one (or if you’re me, many) of these wine storage mistakes. Fortunately, though, there are also some easy course corrections that will leave your wine staying as good as possible for as long as possible.

Here are four common wine-storage mistakes, plus two “do’s” that can help.

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Don’t: Leave Your Wine in the Fridge for More Than a Month

If you’re like me, then you might think that as long as a wine is corked, it’s fine in the fridge for… well, ever. Isn’t wine better with age, anyway? Well, according to Papoutsakis, not really when it comes to fridge storage. 

“A household refrigerator is OK for storing your wine for the short term, but not ideal. You can store whites and reds in a fridge for up to a month,” Papoutsakis says.”If you’re not planning to drink your wine within the month, find a storage space within your apartment that’s dry, stable and has very minimal light to store your wine so you can preserve it better, both short and long term.” 

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Don’t: Store Your Wine Near a Heat Source

Do you have your wine sitting by a warm window? By a heater? On the counter near your stove or oven? If so, you might want to rethink how you’re organizing your kitchen. Papoutsakis says that an ideal storage temperature for wine is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The higher the heat that wine is exposed to, the worse the effects will be. 

“You can actually ‘cook’ your wine, which eliminates the aromas and flavors that wine was meant to display,” Papoutsakis explains, noting that temperature is “very critical” for properly storing wine. 

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Don’t: Put Your Wine Near Any Sunlight

We all like to display gorgeous bottles of wine every now and then, and sometimes that means putting them near the best light source in our homes. However, this is a big no-no, according to the experts. Ideally, you want your wine in a dark, cool place (hence the concept of a wine cellar)—and that means the less light, the better.

“The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine, which is one of the reasons why winemakers use dark colored glass bottles,” Papoutsakis says.

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Don’t: Keep Your Wine Upright

If you don’t have a proper wine rack, storing wine horizontally as opposed to upright can be difficult. But, according to Papoutsakis, it’s important in order to keep the cork from getting too dry.

“If the cork starts drying up, it can shrivel and allow air to come in the bottle, prematurely oxidizing the wine,” Paoutsakis says, explaining that oxidation causes wine to lose its vibrancy, color, or both. “If it’s for a short term (like if you’re planning to drink your wine within the month), wine bottles can be placed upright, but for long term, the cork needs to have contact with the wine to sustain moisture. You can make an exception if the bottles have screw caps, glass or plastic corks.”

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Do: Create A “Wine Cellar” Environment At Home 

Creating an at-home wine cellar might seem a little over-the-top, but it’s less fancy or complicated than you probably think. Have a basement? That’ll work. If not, even a dark, cool closet or drawer can do the trick. And if that’s not an option, either, it’s time to get creative.

“Even if you have a sectional couch with storage underneath, as long as the space is dark and dry, you can store your wine there,” Papoutsakis says. (You can use a Monkey Mat like this $10 one to keep them from rolling around.) “Do not store them on top of the refrigerator, as it creates heat and vibration. Also skip the laundry or boiler room—the humidity and heat will cook your wine.”

Do: Consider a Wine Fridge

Ultimately, it’s helpful to look at wine like an investment. If you’re spending more on bottles, then it might be worth spending more on ways to keep the wine as good as possible for as long as possible. 

“Ask yourself this: How much did you spend last year on your wine habit and how much are you spending now, especially during the current conditions?” Papoutsakis says. “If you’re spending a considerable amount on wine, you might as well consider a wine cooler. There are inexpensive options that do the trick and can protect your investment.”