Storing your wine in a wine cooler or using a wine dispensing system can help prevent your favorite wine from going bad. The goal is to ensure your wine ages properly so you can fully experience it’s complex flavors, aromas, and textures.
Wine is made from fruit, and we have all thrown out mushy apples or brown bananas. Wine will spoil if it gets too warm, or is exposed to the air. Sometimes it will undergo a second fermentation after bottling which creates a slight fizz, or the cork can be contaminated with microorganisms. Some of the signs of a bad wine include:
- A moldy or musty smell like a wet basement
- A dessert wine taste (and it’s not a dessert wine)
- A paint thinner taste
- Fizz or effervescence
- The color is too dark for a red or too golden for a white
- The cork is slightly pushed out.
If you think you have a bad bottle, it is within your right to send it back or take it back to the store. I can’t think of any company that creates and delivers a perfect product 100% of the time, can you? Wineries expect that a certain percentage of their wine will be returned.
How to Store Wine Properly
The history of wine extends to the Neolithic period (8,500-4,000 B.C.) and the first glimmerings of civilization, and the people then stored their wine in cool, dark, humid caves. Interestingly enough, wine still ages best in an environment that mimics the conditions of a cave.
Temperature, lighting, and humidity are 3 conditions that need to be controlled in order to prevent your wine from going bad.
- Humidity 50-70%. If the cork dries out it will cause the wine to leak out or let too much air into the wine which will cause an off-order to the wine and possible spoilage.
- Don’t store in the light. Sunlight or florescent lights can change the chemistry in the wine and cause it to age faster or go bad. Store your wine in a dark area.
- Store red’s at 50-55° F and white’s at 60-65° F. Heat also changes the chemistry of the wine. An indicator of heat damage is a red wine that is a brick red color, or a white wine that is too golden. Cold may not ruin the wine, but it will significantly slow the aging process.
Purchasing a Wine Cooler
A wine cooler, or wine chiller, can keep your wine in the right environment so that it ages naturally and maintains its integrity. Before selecting a model you should have an idea about some of the basic features you need for your unique collection and home bar design.
- Maximum number of bottles you want to store
- Dual zone option for storing red and whites separately
- Storage location: countertop, wall mounted, freestanding, built in
- Viewing experience: labels facing forward or not, lighting, style
- Combined wine and beverage storage capabilities
Wine refrigerators range in price from $100 to $1500 or more, depending on your needs.
Purchasing a Wine Dispensing System
If you want to keep your opened bottle of wine fresh for more than a couple of days, a dispenser can help keep it fresh for up to 3 weeks. The higher end models keep the wine refrigerated and use a gas like nitrogen or argon to “blanket” the wine and limit the deteriorating effects of oxygen.
The good dispensers can cost upwards of $500 or more. If nothing else, just get a good stopper for $10-$15 and don’t leave your opened bottle of wine on the counter – put it in the fridge. The cold temperature will help slow the aging process. willamette wine tours