Ok, so you planned your trip to wine country perfectly. You visited all your favourite wineries and some new gems along the way. You’ve got a trunk full of wonderful wines waiting in to be transferred to one of two places: 1) your belly or 2) your wine rack.
You might drink a bottle in a week or you might decide to try any keep it for a few years and pretend it doesn’t exist. I am not very good at pretending and mentally drool over my “keep” bottles almost everyday, anxiously waiting for the day I can enjoy their complexities. So what’s the trick to ensuring those puppies are not just good, but better than the day you bought them? Well, there are a few things to consider.
First, some bottles are meant to be consumed while they’re young and lively. Don’t force age on an unageable bottle. It is these “drink young” bottles that keep those “drink later” bottles for later. If you buy wines at the winery, just ask your associate if the bottle can age (and for how long). If you want to grab a bottle from your local liquor store and want to experiment with laying it down, a quick mid-store-smart-phone-google-check of the winery website can tell you if the wine is ready for a long nap on your wine shelf.
When you do get that age-worthy bottle home you’ll want to make sure you treat it with a bit of care. First, keep your “keep” bottles at one constant, stable temperature. If you aim for a temperature of 10-15 degrees Celsius you should be ok (my wine fridge and I are constantly battling with one another – it’s usually just a fancy shelf in the shape of a fridge). Think constant and cool but don’t think fridge to get the constant and cool (trust me). Your best bet is to keep the wine away from vibrations (the fridge is always vibrating, as is the spot under your staircase or your apartment over the subway). Extended refrigeration can make your corks hard which allows air to get into the wine. This can cause the wine to oxidize. It is also a good idea to store wines stopped with cork on their side and turn them every so often. This keeps the cork wet and when the cork is in contact with the wine it keeps it from drying out and letting air in. If your bottle has a twist top you don’t need to lay it down. Keep your long-term bottles out of contact with direct light. When you do pull them out be sure to give them a proper decant if there is sediment in the reds…and for the love of everything holy, after all that time you’ve invested into them, enjoy them at the right temperature (that’s another blog for another day).
Happy bottle keeping. Good luck!