When buying a large batch of wine in bottles remember that unlike vodka, whiskey or cognac this lively beverage requires special storage conditions. Wine can be stored in a dark cool place, but in case of long-term keeping you have to control a lot more parameters affecting the shelf life. Masters only create suitable conditions (temperature, light, sugar content, acidity, etc.) for some bacteria – wine yeasts and prevent others, which produce vinegar and mold, from developing. But even after the wine is bottled, bacteria in it are not killed, they “go to sleep” awaiting favorable conditions. Activation of any microorganisms negatively affects wine, and during storage, it is important to prevent this from happening.
Shelf life also depends on the type of wine or rather on the content of alcohol, sugar, acid, and hardening agents. Most white wines are stored for 2-3 years, red – for 2-10 years. Some elite wines, for example, from the French provinces of Bordeaux and Burgundy, are aged up to 100 years. In their turn, the red wines of Beaujolais are stored for not longer than a year. You should consider this stocking up with wine in advance.
According to Russian laws, food manufacturers are required to indicate their warranty expiration date. It is interesting that it is almost the same for all of the wines – 12-24 months. This confuses buyers who know that a lot of wines can be kept much longer. But when you get down to the meaning of the term, everything falls into place.
Guaranteed shelf life is a period during which no physical and chemical changes of color, smell, taste, sediment, and consistency that are not covered by production regulations can happen. For this sulfur and other preservatives which prevent bacteria from developing are added to the contents. Their effect wears off with time.
Wine can still be consumed off the warranty. It won’t get spoilt if stored properly, but its organoleptic properties might change. For example, sediment will appear or its tone will change. For many elite wines such transformation is even desirable, and in wine parlance, it is called “aging.”
Shelf Life of Bottled Wines
It depends on storage conditions. Optimal temperature is 50-59F° / 10-15°C. At higher temperatures the beverage oxidizes rapidly, it loses the freshness of the taste. At lower temperatures, it stops maturing, and after freezing it is no longer possible to restore its tastiness. Also, sudden temperature drops of more than 40-50°F / 5-10°C are undesirable; they can ruin the wine within a few hours.
The constant humidity of 60-80% should be also maintained in the storage places. It prevents corks from drying and mold from appearing. Even artificial bright lights lead to rapid aging of the wine, and direct sunlight spoils it within a few days. Bottles (preferably from dark glass) should be kept horizontally so that corks don’t dry out. They should be fixed securely, not get subjected to vibration, shocks, and loud noises.
Only two places are fit for long-term storage of wine: a basement and a wine cabinet. The basement is considered to be a classic, but for the majority of urban residents, it’s a pipe dream. They should better think about buying a good wine cabinet, which automatically supports right microclimate. Manufacturers have options designed for different amounts of bottles.
Shelf Life of Uncorked Wine
Right after the bottle gets uncorked oxygen gets in which leads to wine oxidization. The more oxygen gets in and the higher the temperature is, the faster this process flows. It can’t be stopped, it can only be slowed down. You can feel the difference in taste within a few hours, and after 2-3 days any wine turns into vinegar.
In order to prolong the life of wine it is enough to pour it into a smaller container (it’s preferable to fill it up to the bottleneck), hermetically seal the bottle with a cork and put it into a fridge. This simple method will prolong the shelf life of uncorked sparkling wine (champagne) from 4 to 24 hours, for white wine – from 1 to 3 days, for red wine – from 1 to 5 days, for fortified wine – up to 7 days.
Special devices are used in the restaurants and bars which tightly seal bottles and pump the air out, creating a vacuum. But they have one flaw – the wine loses its aroma. It is pointless to use these devices at home.