You’ve come back from a wine country weekend with a couple of cases of vino. Your challenge: find a place to stash your wine. The good news is you don’t have to have a private wine cellar to protect and preserve your investment. Wherever you decide to keep it, these six wine storage basics can be implemented for little to no cost.
1. Keep it sideways. Wine bottles sealed with a cork should be stored on their sides to keep the corks wet. If the cork dries out, air can seep into the bottle and spoil the wine. Bottles sealed with a screw cap do not need to be stored sideways, since this type of seal prevents oxygen from coming into contact with the wine.
2. Stay cool. The ideal storage temperature for wine is between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. You can keep wine in the kitchen or fridge for a few days if you know you’re going to drink it soon. Otherwise, avoid storing it in your kitchen for the long term, since extreme heat can damage the wine, and refrigerated air will dry out the cork.
3. No rockin’ and rollin’. Vibrations from a nearby subway station, electric appliances, and your car’s engine (if you store wine in the garage) will cause micro-motion in the wine bottle. Constant or frequent vibration shakes up the sediment, which may impact the wine’s flavor and, according to some experts, affect the aging process. Store your wine someplace where it can lie still.
4. See the light—and avoid it. Store wine in a dark place, since heat from sunlight or strong indoor lighting can cause your vino to age prematurely. If you don’t have a wine cellar, a closet or cabinet will do.
5. Humidity: Bad for hair. Good for wine. A little moisture keeps the cork from drying out if you’re storing wine for the long-term. Air conditioners are designed to suck the moisture out of the air, so make sure to keep your wine away from the A/C unit.
6. If you’ve already opened the bottle…Wine will keep for a day or two in the fridge as long as you reseal it with a cork or other stopper. After that, it loses its aroma and flavor. Two low-cost methods can maintain the wine’s freshness for up to a week. Argon is a non-toxic gas that is heavier than oxygen. When sprayed into a wine bottle, the gas forms a protective layer that prevents wine from coming into contact with air. A container of argon typically costs between $11 and $15 and is good for 70 or more uses. A vacuum pump removes oxygen from an opened wine bottle through a special rubber stopper. You can find vacuum pumps at wine shops or online for $10 to $25. Or use up that leftover wine in wine cocktails!