5 Golden Rules for Storing Wine
Whether your wine collection is a magnificent cellarful or a handful of favourite bottles, you’ll want to know how to store your wine and champagne, so you can enjoy them at their best. To help you keep your bottles in tip-top condition, we’ve consulted the experts at Château Cheval Blanc, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart and put together 5 golden rules for storing wine.
Ever wondered why are wine racks always designed to store bottles on their sides? It comes back to the importance of keeping the cork moist, by maintaining contact with the wine. If you’re lucky enough to buy your wine in cases, make sure they’re placed horizontally too. By the way, the horizontal rule applies to chilling your champagne, for a slightly different reason. If you’re opting for the fridge rather than the ice bucket, Ruinart advises laying it on its side to avoid temperature differences. And plan ahead – you’ll need 2.5 hours for one bottle and longer for more.
When it comes to the temperature of your wine storage, keep it cool... but above all, keep it stable. Take it from the team at Château Cheval Blanc, in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion. They recommend that “any variations in temperature should be progressive and, ideally, the temperature should never fall below 10 °C or reach above 18 °C”. If perfection is your goal, then they suggest cellaring your wine collection at 14 °C.
Often related to temperature, humidity is another vital factor when storing wine. If the atmosphere is too dry, the cork can dry out, damaging the wine and causing evaporation in the bottle. Over to those experts at Château Cheval Blanc again: “The ideal level of humidity is 70-75%. Above 80% the labels can be damaged, although the wine itself should not be affected.” The good news is, it’s relatively easy to measure humidity with a hygrometer, which needn’t cost the Earth.
The dreaded “light strike” phenomenon, which can destroy the taste of your wine, is one to avoid at all costs! Even short exposures to bright daylight and fluorescent light can do real damage, so make sure you keep your bottles safely tucked away – with clear glass bottles particularly at risk. For us, this is one more reason to applaud Ruinart’s new Second Skin eco packaging. Not only is it 100% recyclable and super light, it’s also been designed to protect the champagne against light strike. And that’s especially important for the House’s Blanc de Blancs, which is contained in clear bottles deliberately chosen to showcase the colour of the Chardonnay.
And finally... keep your bottles well protected from vibrations – we’re talking everything from washing machines to music speakers here. Since vibration disturbs the sediment in bottles, it can harm the magical ageing process. And if you’re storing champagne, the team at Veuve Clicquot remind us that there are 6 bars of pressure inside a bottle (3 x the pressure in a car tyre). So avoid shocks... and handle with care!