Temperature and humidity are two of the most overlooked aspects of wine storage..when wine is not kept within the best temperature and humidity ranges, wine may age prematurely or lose aromas which can damage the wine.
Temperatures that are too warm, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, cause the cork to start drying out, at the same time causing the fruit in the wine to age prematurely. When the cork dries out, air and humidity begin to seep into the wine, resulting in discoloration and either a sour or bitter taste.
Wine storage in areas that are too cool, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, can slow down the maturation of the wine, leaving strong tannins and an extremely acidic bite. Storing wine in these cool temperatures will cause an unbalanced product.
Humidity plays a big part in wine taste. Just like temperature, if the humidity is too high or too low, the wine can become damaged and unpalatable. Ideal humidity for wine storage in order to maintain optimal taste is between 60 and 70 percent relative humidity. If the humidity is any higher, mold can actually start to form inside the bottle. Too dry of a climate can dry out the cork, exposing wine to the air, releasing the aromas, and unsettling the fermentation process.
The angle of the bottle plays a big role in wine storage. Wine bottles should be stored horizontally at about a 45 degree angle. Two things are accomplished by storing wine this way. First, the wine in the bottle comes into contact with the cork and keeps the cork from drying out. Secondly, because the wine and the cork are in contact with each other air cannot enter the bottle.
Take some cues about wine storage from the place you bought your wine. With the exception of grocery stores, most wine shops store their wine at a 45 degree angle. In doing so, you can expect a better bottle of wine because it has been stored properly.
We know that a warm, humid climate will help age wine. We know that a cool, dry climate will keep the wine from aging. Now, we are armed with the most important tool a wine lover can have. Being able to work with the age of the wine, you begin to understand how to make a good wine even better.
For wines that need to age, storing them at a slightly warmer temperature will speed up their aging process so that you may enjoy them sooner. The biggest trick is to gradually increase the temperature slowly over a few days so as not to shock the wine.
Giving the wine time to slowly raise its internal temperature will allow the enzymes to break down the sugars and allow the wine to become more complex. Having too high of a temperature , too quickly will not allow the wine to develop slowly, which develops the taste properly.
Delaying or slowing a wines aging process is not required quite as often as speeding up a wines development. However, once a bottle is opened, holding back further development is a good idea. Slowing the aging process of an opened bottle of wine is commonly done by storing the open wine in the refrigerator.
I personally will leave a red wine on the counter if I know It will be consumed within a few days.
Freezing wine is not recommended as the ice crystals can alter the flavor of the wine as well as introduce water causing dilution of the wine.
TIP - The only time I ever freeze wine is if I know for certain that my opened bottle will not be consumed in a few days. I pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, then store in a resealable freezer bag to use later, and add the frozen, yummy blocks to spaghetti sauce or beef stew.
Generally speaking, storing wine between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity around 50 percent is the best way to preserve wine taste and keep the integrity of the wine intact.
Storing your wine at the proper temperature and humidity will ensure that your next wine tasting will give you the results you expect and appreciate!