Many people buy and serve wine for social occasions: parties, holiday get-togethers, and nice dinners. They’re content just to have a handful of bottles at a time. Other people, though, are serious collectors who enjoy holding onto special bottles for years, letting them age over time, and saving them for that very special occasion. Wine connoisseurs know that there are proper and improper ways to store wine, and factors like temperature and light can affect how well the wine holds up over a long period of time.
The generally accepted temperature for storing wine is around 55 to 60°F, with fluctuations in temperature of only a degree or so. According to a French wine expert, the practice of storing wines at 55°F goes back hundreds of years in Europe, when people kept wines in underground caverns, which naturally maintain that temperature. It just so happens that those environmental conditions were just right for allowing the wine’s properties to develop harmoniously.
Keeping wine at room temperature or higher significantly speeds up the aging process and can cause undesirable chemical reactions. Even wine stored in very hot conditions, say 90°F or higher, for just a short time can have adverse effects on wine. Overheating wine can give it an off taste and unpleasant odor. Chilling it too much, however, can be just as bad, eliminating the flavors and smells that make wine so appealing.
Opened bottles of wine should be stored in a refrigerator or wine cooler, which will slow down the spoiling process. Vacuum seals are available that can pull out excess air in the bottle and minimize oxidation.
You’ve probably encountered a wine collector who keeps wine in a dark, cool cellar. Wines are preserved longer in dark conditions, safe from damaging ultraviolet rays. UV light degrades the organic compounds in wine that control its flavor, aroma, and essence. Even fluorescent lights give off UV rays. If you’re buying a wine cooler, look for a model that has UV-resistant glass so your wine won’t lose its finer properties.
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