Vanessa Price's Tips for Storing Wine - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Vanessa Price’s Tips for Storing Wine

In the new book Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World, co-author Vanessa Price offers some pro tips for food and wine pairings as well as 101 insights on topics including how to taste and smell wines, how to find the best bargain bottles, and what to do once you bring them home. Here’s her advice on how to store wine properly, as excerpted from the book.

The vast majority of wine is not made to age and should be consumed soon after you buy it. It’s only the small percentage of wine that gets better with time that requires regulated storage. That percentage varies by wine-making region, but most experts agree that less than 10 percent of wine improves after a year of coming to market and less than 1 percent improves after five to ten years.

How do you know what bottles can age? Most of them already have age when they’re released to the market. For example, Brunello di Montalcino, a famous red wine appellation in Italy, is required by law to age for five years in the winery before it can be sold. Since the current offering from the winery will already have at least five years of age when you buy it, you can safely assume they made that wine with aging in mind and took the time and care to treat it accordingly. Its price tag will reflect those years of effort. On the other hand, an inexpensive Sangiovese, which is the same grape used to make Brunello, will likely only be a year old when it becomes available for purchase and was not made to age.

If you’re like most of the world and plan to drink your wine in the next six months or so, storing it on a rack in your pantry or a kitchen counter is perfectly fine—just keep it away from the stove (and the cabinet above it). You’ll wind up cooking your bottles along with your food.

Don’t store bottles with corks standing up. It dries out the cork, which allows oxygen to seep into the bottle, and it will eventually make your wine undrinkable.

Don’t let the light in. The reason so many wine bottles are made with dark-hued glass is because UV light breaks down wine in the same way it does anything that spends too much time in direct sunlight. The colored glass acts like sunscreen for the wine, but no amount of sunscreen can protect it from a few weeks on a windowsill.

Don’t expose it to temperature fluctuations. When it’s warm, wine expands, which pushes the cork out of the bottle. When it cools, wine contracts, pulling oxygen into the bottle. neither of these things is good.

Don’t store good wine in a food refrigerator. The humidity is too low. It dries out the corks, which prematurely oxidizes your wines. I always feel bad when people tell me that they’ve had special bottles lying in their food fridge for months or even years. That wine is no bueno. If you’re one of those people, I’m so sorry. Go open it right now and hope for the best.

Don’t toss a bottle unless you really know it’s gone bad. Even if a cork has started to pop out or the temperatures in your home have shifted greatly, it’s never a guarantee that the wine is a goner. The only way to know for sure is to try it. Some of the best wine I’ve ever had has come from bottles that appeared to be in very poor condition when I was only using my eyeballs. even if the color is scary, wine isn’t harmful as it turns, so always give it a sip before you give it the dump.

Reprinted from Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World by Vanessa Price with Adam Laukhuf. Photographs by Michelle McSwain. Illustrations by The Ellaphant in the Room. Published by Abrams Image, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Enjoy This Article?

Sign up for our newsletter and get biweekly recipes and articles delivered to your inbox.

Send this to a friend