Although the average wine drinker may not know it, true wine aficionados know that there is a certain art to storing wines. Temperature, humidity, light, and so many more factors can impact the quality of a wine, so proper storage is an absolute must. Although red wines tend to be more commonly stored for aging, white wine lovers will also want to note the best practices for storing their wine collection. While many of the general guidelines for storing wine apply to all types of wine, there are a few key differences that you need to know about how to store white wine.
Keep It Cool
High temperatures are the enemy of wine. At anything above 80°F, your wine will begin to “cook,” and if your wine reaches 90°F, it will be ruined. Wine should be stored in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature: either a wine cellar or wine cooler are your best options.
If you store your wine in an area that has significant temperature fluctuations, you risk prematurely aging the wine. Although white wines are less prone to damage from temperature fluctuations than red wine, properly storing white wine includes avoiding temperature fluctuations of more than 5°F per day.
Temperature fluctuations will affect the cork and can allow air to get into your wine bottles. As the temperature warms up, the wine and air in the bottle warms up and expands. When this expanded air reaches the cork, it will either shift the cork or seep past it. When the air cools again, the bottle will contract, which will draw oxygen into the bottle. If fluctuations occur often, this can cause a lot of air to come into contact with your wine.
Horizontal, Not Vertical
Even though many liquor stores store their wine bottles upright, that’s actually not the proper way to store them. Wines should be stored on their sides in order to keep the wine in contact with the cork. If the wine is not in contact with the cork, you risk the cork becoming dry and shrinking. This shrinkage can expose your wine to air, causing it to oxidize prematurely.
Storing your wine horizontally isn’t necessary if the bottle features a non-cork closure. However, it is generally best to create a wine storage solution, such as any of our built in wine coolers, that keeps your bottles stored horizontally since you will likely be storing some bottles with corks.
The environment in which you store your wine should have a humidity level of 60 to 80%. While storing wine on its side will help keep the cork moist on one end, the end that is exposed to the air needs to be kept moist as well. Having a relative humid environment helps prevent the cork from drying out. While higher humidity will not damage the cork or the wine, it may encourage the growth of mold or mildew that can damage your storage area or wine labels.
Keep It in the Dark
To properly store white wine, it’s best to keep it away from light. While low-level lighting won’t harm your wine, direct sunlight is incredibly detrimental. Light, especially at low wavelengths, can break down the complex molecules that give wine their unique flavors. Dark colored glass can help protect your wine from light, but since most white wine is bottled in clear glass, it’s best to keep them in the dark.
Some experts believe that vibrations can damage your wine by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. While there is no hard evidence that minor vibrations will ruin your wines, it is still best to store your wine in a stable location. Once you store it, try to avoid moving it until you’re going to drink it.
If you’re concerned about how vibrations could affect your wine, look for one of our single-zone wine storage solutions that is vibration free.
Wine should be kept in a well-ventilated area so that odors can’t permeate the wine. Over time, the scent compounds from these items can contaminate the wine through the cork. This tends to not be a very significant problem as this process takes years, but it is good practice to keep all strong-smelling products away from your wine storage. A few things in particular that should never be stored around wine are solvents (like the ones found in some cleaning products) or strong-odored foods like garlic and onions.
Storing Whites vs. Reds
While many of the guidelines for storing wine are the same regardless of wine type, there are a few key differences. To truly understand how to store white wine, it’s important to know these distinctions.
Unlike red wines, most white wines do not benefit from long aging periods. The exception is some Chardonnays and other full-bodied, tannic whites, which can be stored for over 5 years. For all other white wines, aim to consume them no later than 2 to 3 years after storing.
White wines can be stored in a cooler environment than red wines. While the humidity should be the same, white wines are best stored at 45 to 50°F, whereas reds do best at slightly warmer temperatures. If you’re storing your wines in a wine cellar, you should keep your whites in the coolest part of the basement. Consider a KingsBottle dual-zone cooler than can keep your whites chilled to a different temperature than your reds.
Chill to the Perfect Temperature and Enjoy
Before you serve your white wine, it’s best to chill it to the optimal temperature based on the type of wine. Fuller bodied or oaked white wines taste best at around 50°F. Medium or light-bodied whites should be chilled to 45-50°F, with fruitier and sparkling wines at the coolest end of the spectrum.
Now that you know how to store white wine, it’s time to make some adjustments to your home wine storage. Keep all of your favorite whites at optimal serving temperature with a high-quality wine cooler from KingsBottle, and you’ll know that every sip you take will be the highest quality possible.