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How to Store Wine & Maintain Its Quality

Celebrating the holiday season with friends and family while sharing food and drink is a major part of the holiday experience for many people. As part of that festive tradition, tis the season to both give, receive and drink wine. There will be many opportunities to imbibe as we get closer and closer to the New Year with parties and get togethers. If you are planning to keep more than a couple of bottles around for entertaining and celebrating, it's a good time to brush up on your wine storage knowledge. Serious wine collectors and connoisseurs will want to invest in a professional quality temperature and humidity controled wine cooler, but for most of us who simply want to enjoy our wine, this is not necessary.

Proper storage can be summed up with a few key points that are simple and easy to remember. The essential elements of good wine storage can be easily remembered by the acronym B.O.T.T.L.E.Block Oxygen, Temperature, Time, Light, and Evaporation.


  1. BLOCK: It is essential to block or control the elements of oxygenation, temperature fluctuations, storage time, light exposure and evaporation/corks drying out in order to maintain the best quality conditions for your wine storage. A good quality wine storage system can help you to achieve these goals. Wine cubes and wine cubbies keep bottles stationary and horizontal while controling the amount of light that can hit the bottles. They offer a convenient solution to storing a lot of bottles.
    proper wine storage
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  2. OXYGEN: Prevent oxygen from spoiling your wine by making sure that the corks do not dry out. One way you can do this is by storing unopened bottles on their sides so that liquid is in constant contact with the cork, keeping it moist. If the corks did dry out, the seal would not be as tight and air could seep in, spoiling the wine. This is not as important for wine bottles that have plastic stoppers or screw caps, but it is good practice none the less, and a very efficient way to store the bottles. Once a bottle of wine has been opened, oxygen has gotten in. Opened wine will last on average one week, although some reds will last two weeks and some whites will go vinegary after only three days. Do not confuse this with the recommended decanting and aeration of red wines. Decanting red wine also introduces oxygen, but does so in order to more fully bring out the flavor. The difference is that introducing oxygen for decanting is intended only for a short period of time before drinking the wine — usually 30 minutes to two hours depending on the age of the wine — not for long term storage.
    keep wine bottles horizontal
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  3. TEMPERATURE: A temperature range between 45°F and 65°F is generally adequate for most wine storage, with 55°F being the universally accepted optimal standard for long term storage of wines. However, more important than maintaining this exact temperature is to avoid rapid or frequent temperature fluctuations. Keeping your wine away from drafty areas like your mud room, and heavily heated areas like the furnace or laundry rooms will prevent the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle that might push the cork out or cause seepage, possibly ruining the wine. The ideal situation is to create a separate wine room with its own thermostat so that temperature can be maintained.
    keep your wine away from temperature fluctuations
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  4. TIME: You want to store your wine for an appropriate amount of time. Only a small percentage of very expensive wines benefit from long-term aging. Most wines are best when consumed within a few years of release. Keep your wines in a location that is controlled, but easy to access, so that they are readily available when the mood or company dictates celebrating with wine. If you want and can afford the high quality wines that can be aged for 100 years or more, it is best to buy them all ready aged and then drink the wine within a couple of years, rather than trying to store the bottle for a prolonged period of time yourself. After all, will you really be up to enjoying a nice glass of wine 100 years from now?
  5. LIGHT: Light is the enemy of wine. Ultra violet rays, like those from sunlight and incandescent bulbs can cause wine to degrade and age prematurely. Flourescent bulbs also give off some UV emissions, but less that the sun or incandescent sources. LED emits the lowest amount of UV, but the bulbs still give off trace amounts of UV light, so it is best to keep your wine in the dark if possible. A location away from direct sunlight is a must. Wine cubbies are a good way to block light and will go a long way towards controlling the light exposure that your wine receives while in storage.
    wine cubbies block light
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  6. EVAPORATION: Control the humidity in the room. Professional and commercial wine sorage coolers will keep all bottles at an optimal 70% humidity, but this is not required for the average homeowner trying to keep a few bottles around for personal use. Anything from 50% to 80% humidity is considered safe for wine. This is a wide enough range that most people should be able to manage using either a humidifier (winter) or dehumidifier (summer) to control the humidity. Higher humidity levels do not actually spoil the wine, but it can ruin the labels (musty odors could, in theory, penetrate a cork and add an unpleasant flavor to the wine). Lower humidity can damage the corks, allowing the other enemy, oxygen, to penetrate the bottle and spoil the wine, so try to keep your humidity levels within range.
wine tasting
The most important part of any wine collection, however, is to allow yourself the opportunity to drink and enjoy it! Holding on to your wine for the purpose of building up your cache is all good in theory, but wine is meant to be tasted, not looked at. Enjoy a nice glass of wine at your next meal, with friends, or simply relax and let an exquisite flavor engulf your senses as you quietly sip away.

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Custom wine room
A separate wine room was built on the lower level of the home with independant temperature controls and located away from any natural light. The room was triangular shaped, with the two back walls measuring approximately 6 foot each, forming a space that is a right isosceles triangle. Floor to ceiling wine cubbies and wine cubes were installed to hold approximately 482 bottles of wine. A stone backed center nook was provided for opening and decanting wine.
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Custom wine storage unit
Designed to fit into an unused alcove in a hallway, this wine center utilizes both wine cubbies and wine cubes to deliver a 332 wine bottle storage capacity. Fitted into an interior hallway, it has little exposure to natural light and worked out perfectly for the client's wine storage needs. A built in countertop serves as decanting and serving space. An opening was left in the bottom of the wine wall system to hold a small refrigeration unit.
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Custom wine cabinetry with cruvenit and commercial bar for wine tasting at a liquor business
Commercial wine storage project created with the goal of providing a space to host tastings of different beverages sold at the liquor store — including everything from wines to local craft beers and spirits. An outer bar, an inner bar, a custom cabinet to hold a wine Cruvenit, and an insulated beer Kegorator cabinet were designed. Additional glass shelves and a countertop provide a place to display other types of liquor.
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wine storage in a 360 Organizer rotating wine closet
The 360 Organizer was used as a rotating wine closet in order to provide a lot of wine storage in a very small space. Requiring only a 40" x 40" corner, this 360 Organizer can be customized with two 54 bottle wine racks to hold wine bottles horizontally, along with a two beverage cubes, eight wine cubbies and an under mount wine glass holder. A finished 360 Organizer, customized in this manner, can provide storage for approximately 212 bottles of wine, plus shelves for accessories.
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made in Chicago
Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom craft rooms, art studios, closets, pantries, office/guest rooms, wall units and more that help create a better, less stressful lifestyle. All of our organization systems are made locally at our factory in Elmhurst IL. USA. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our organized bedrooms, closrts and other custom organization systems can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).

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