Unless you’re dead lucky and have inherited a great big massive castle just outside St Albans – or, indeed, a castle anywhere – it’s doubtful you’ve got a copious cellar to store all those bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape you like to idly quaff of a Friday night.
Mercifully, there’s no need to despair. Just memorise these handy tips, provided by wine expert Ben Gubbins from Oddbins, and you’ll be storing wine as well as those sommelier chaps in next to no time…
Wine loves the dark
The most important thing to remember is that wine doesn’t like direct light or too many temperature changes. So keep your bottles away from radiators and windows. The ideal temperature to store wine is between 13c and 18c – a cupboard is ideal, just ensure it’s not near any pipes.
Keep the cork moist
If you’re not planning on drinking a bottle immediately, laying it flat is important, especially if the bottle is sealed with a cork. Problems can arise if the cork dries up – oxygen can enter the bottle, causing the wine to oxidize. Keeping the bottle on its side helps to keep the cork moist – it will also allow whatever oxygen is present in the bottle to cover a larger surface area. This doesn’t matter so much for bottles of wine with a screw cap.
You don’t have to spend the earth to store your wine. Wooden racks are perfectly serviceable and do less damage to the labels than those with metal cross beams, although this is an aesthetic point. A rule of thumb is to spend £1 for every bottle – so if you’re storing 12 bottles, a £12 wine rack will be adequate. Just remember to keep all racks away from light and heat.
If you’re intending to keep a bottle for longer than a couple of years, then a wine fridge is the only sensible option. With the new breed of temperature controlled wine fridges you can adjust and regulate the temperature of each shelf – very handy if you’re storing both red and white wine.
White wine needs a couple of hours in the fridge before serving. However, never fast freeze. Red wine will benefit from decanting, but this can be as simple as pouring the wine out of the bottle and then back in again. For a full bodied red, open an hour before serving and let it breathe.