Keeping wine at its finest

Maybe this has happened to you. You purchased a great bottle of wine for some future occasion, but when the time finally came to open it, the wine was lackluster, a shadow of what it used to be, and nothing like the flavor profile you had hoped it would mature into. Or worse, your once hopeful investment, has been reduced to a bad-tasting vinegar.

The truth is most wines are meant to be enjoyed now or within the next couple of years. Wines made for aging typically have more tannins, such as cabernet sauvignon, syrahs or other Italian wines made from sangiovese grapes.

However, with proper storage and techniques, shelf life can be extended, and sometimes wines are even improved by putting a little age on them. It’s key to protect wine from four variables: heat, light, air and movement—which hasten its degradation.

Problem: Heat

High Tech Solutions

Heat is probably the worst thing that wine can be exposed to. Without the luxury of a wine cave or well-insulated basement, a specialty wine refrigerator is the next best way to store wines—white or red—at around 55 degrees fahrenheit. UV-coated doors, featured on some wine fridges, protect from light.

A helpful gadget on the market is a wireless Bluetooth sensor from Blustream, which monitors temperature, humidity and seismic activity and sends a smartphone alert as conditions change.

Low Tech Solutions

No wine refrigerator? The next best bet is not the regular refrigerator—most hover around 37 degrees, which is too cold for wine to fully develop and can dry out the cork. Store wines for no longer than a year or two in the darkest, coolest spaces—usually on the first floor closest to the home’s interior.

Problem: Leftover Opened Wine

When a bottle of wine is not finished in one day there are several ways to keep wine fresh by reducing its oxygen exposure.

High Tech Solutions

One method for keeping air away from wine is by using a wine preservation spray, 100 percent inert gas (non-toxic) that removes all the oxygen from the opened bottle. Another method uses a gadget to pump air out of the bottle. Each method costs around $10.00.

Low Tech Solutions

Use the original cork or another tight-fitting stopper and finish the bottle the next day. Placing an opened bottle inside a refrigerator for a couple of days also helps to preserve the flavors and aromas. Pour a glass and wait a few minutes for the cold edge to wear off. Many people can buy three to four days this way.

Bev Stenehjem
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About Bev Stenehjem
Bev Stenehjem is a wine columnist for South Valley Magazine and is the author of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Arcadia Publishing. Bev also promotes the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley association on Facebook and Twitter. Reach her at [email protected]