how to ACTUALLY store your wine
three nyc wine experts share their tips for taking proper care of your wine.
Published Aug 5, 2015 5:00 AM
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We drink wine. We love wine. We like and comment on hilarious Instagrams about wine. But how many of us can actually say we know how to take care of wine? It’s not as simple as uncorking a bottle, and that’s why we enlisted the help of three New York-based Wine Directors and Sommeliers to share their best advice on wine storage to ensure that the bottles we’re drinking at home are stored (and served!) at their best.
First, we chatted with Thomas Carter, co-proprietor of Estela , the Manhattan hotspot you should visit as much for the wine as the food. Regarding wine storage, we discovered there’s a lot (like a lot ) we didn’t know.
“Storage depends on philosophy. If you’re drinking younger wines day-to-day, wine thats not meant to archive, it’s important to research which wines are best to drink when they’re young.” We found this especially helpful as our wine collections can be small (or nonexistent), but our wine consumption at home can be frequent, requiring us to know more about younger wines.
“Stay away from drastic changes in temperature. Keep them in a cool, dark place, even the salad crisper in your fridge. I highly recommend getting a small Eurocav , set to 75% humidity, 53 degrees fahrenheit. Whites and reds can be stored at the same temperature in your wine fridge, and if you want to chill whites, drop them in ice.”
Beyond storing wine, we wanted to know more about actually serving wine, and if there is any truth to trend and rumor when it comes to our go-to beverage for guests.
“Serve at the temperature you store it, and yes…glassware matters. Don’t serve a $90 bottle of wine from a tumbler. Wines need to breathe, you need to work them in the glass a bit, like kneading dough. Aerating your wine can be a personal preference, and you want them to develop aromatically. You should find an all purpose white glass, a basic burgundy, and a basic bordeaux, each with a thin rim”.
On practical wine knowledge, Carter helped us expand the way we view purchasing wine, with an analogy too good not to share:
“Explore regions–see what you’re excited by. Go to wine shops that are willing to educate you, and do research. It doesn’t have to be that serious–have fun with it. Collecting wines is timeless, it’s just as important as collecting music–it’s archival media. You can buy a few bottles of a wine you’ll forge memories around. They can be very emotion-evoking, much like music.”
Next, we spoke to Patrick Cappiello, Wine Director of Rebelle and Pearl & Ash restaurants, who gave us insight into wine storage in situations where space is tight. We had a few “oops…I’ve done that…” moments talking to Patrick, and learned that the “don’ts” of wine storage can be more important than the “do’s”.
“Don’t place a wine rack next to your stove. What matters most is that wine is in a cool, dark location. Heat and light are the two things that are like kryptonite to wine. If you’re in an apartment with limited choices, Eurocavs, or wine fridges, will store wine at a cool temperature.” (Which is also serving temperature!)
“If neither of these are an option, store your wine in your actual fridge. Offsite storage is available if you can swing it. Do not keep it out on the counter.” Which is when we felt the need to run home and re-arrange our entire wine situation.
“Dark doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have cold along with it. Imagine that the wine is alive. If the heat comes up, you’re aging your wine faster, forcing it to move along in its life.” We will never make this mistake again.
It’s often easy to feel uninformed about wine, even when ordering in a restaurant. After speaking with Cappiello, we felt as though it’s not that hard to become a “wine person”. In fact, we think you’ll find that many of us already are.
“I think its awesome that we’re drinking more wine than ever, when we eat out, at home, etc. It’s part of an evolution. If you look at a wine collector, first they love wine. It’s what they always choose. Next, they’ll start finding themselves gravitating toward people that like wine as well. Once you start meeting other wine lovers, you have the opportunity for a movement to occur in your life. That’s when educating yourself comes into play. You’ll get the bug of wanting to store and age wine. It starts subconsciously, but grows and develops into a hobby.”
And finally, we spoke to Laura Maniec, Master Sommelier and owner of Corkbuzz . We felt a bit more confident about small space wine storage practices, but what about homes with ample space? We’ve all got home decor goals, and after chatting with Laura, a dedicated space for wine was certainly one of ours.
“It is important to remember that wine should be stored on its side to keep the cork wet. Also wine should be stored at 55 degrees for long-term aging. You can achieve this by purchasing wine racks and a small cooling unit, and can outfit a closet or larger room depending on your space. Also depending on the climate, it is sometimes possible to cool a wine storage area naturally by using basements or other areas which are not exposed to extreme temperatures.”
Now for the fun part. We asked Laura for specifics, wanting to know of a few expert-recommended bottles to always have on hand.
“I think wine and food go hand-in-hand, and pairings are important. However, there are bottles that can be enjoyed without food. Crowd pleasers include Spanish Rioja, French Rhone Blends, and Oregon Pinot Noir to pair with a wide variety of dishes. Argentina Malbecs and California Zinfandel are great to enjoy on their own.”
We couldn’t resist ending our research by debunking a common wine myth, which thankfully Laura was happy to do.
“I think a lot of people think that champagne gives them headaches. I would say that very commercial, sweet, sparkling wine with a lot of additives and sugar can give headaches, but quality champagne should not unless we drink in excess.”
We can’t thank our wine experts enough for changing the way we approach serving and storing our wine. (To think we ever kept it on top of the fridge!). Make the changes necessary to keep your wine at its best, and celebrate your newly acquired knowledge with a glass–at perfect temperature.