One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at the Hawk Haven tasting room is all about storing wine. What’s the best way to store wine and how long is a bottle of wine good after it has been opened? What about aging wine in the bottle after you’ve bought it? The answers may surprise you.
Storing wine is fairly simple yet also very important if you want to make sure the wine you tasted in the tasting room will be just as delicious as the wine you drink at home. There are two main factors you’ll want to remember when it comes to storing wine, and they are time and temperature.
Not all wine is meant to be stored for long periods of time. At some point in your life, you might have been given the impression that the older the wine, the better. This is not true! Most of the wine that you would buy today is meant to be opened and enjoyed within a few months to a few years of release. It has already been aged to perfection, or at least as close to perfect as it’s going to get. This is even true for many of the more expensive bottles. If you want to save a special wine for a special occasion, do your research to find a bottle that is meant to be aged for however long you’ll be waiting. Otherwise, drink up! Life is too short.
As far as Hawk Haven wines go, the above is true for nearly all of our wines except the finer blends like Quill and Talon, or some of the Signature Series varietals such as Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. While those are quite tasty right now, try them again in about 10 or 15 years and you will be glad you waited.
This is probably the most important part of storing wine. Keeping your bottles at the wrong temperature can really negatively affect the flavors and aromas of a wine. But as important as this factor is, there is really no need to rush out and buy an expensive wine refrigerator or dig up your backyard to build a wine cellar unless you are buying wines that require continued aging. The most basic advice here is to store your wine in a cool, dark place that doesn’t have a lot of drastic changes in temperature. That being said, as long as you’re sticking to the Time factor and drinking the wine within a year of release, there isn’t a lot you can do to totally ruin the wine unless it is being exposed to extreme hot or cold.
Wine that is kept too hot will end up losing a lot of the flavors and aromas. Too cold and the cork could dry out allowing for seepage. The worst places to store wine are probably the kitchen and laundry room because of the fluctuations in temperature, particularly heat. The refrigerator, however, is a great place for short-term storage for both reds and whites. If you have a basement, that could be a great place too as they are very cool and dark.
What to do with leftover wine is another commonly asked question. We usually tell people there is no excuse for not finishing a bottle, unless perhaps you’re drinking alone in which case we will let it slide just this once! But let’s just say you had a party and there were several bottles opened and at the end of the night you had one or two bottles with wine left over.
The enemy here is air. When oxygen reacts with wine, it can cause the wine to spoil, giving it a harsh, burning taste. This is not the same as the acidity that is often perceived in dry white wines or the peppery bite of many dry reds. You will know it if you taste it, but it is very easy to prevent.
Storing leftover wine in the refrigerator can help slow the oxidation process, so if you’re planning to resume your drinking within a day, two days tops, just put a cork in it and pop it in the fridge. There are also a lot of handy gadgets that claim to remove oxygen from the bottle, usually with a special cap and a pump, but again these are only going to give you one or two days to finish the wine.
If you’re really not going to drink it soon, you can always pour the remaining wine into a smaller container with a tight-sealing lid, something that you will be able to fill all the way to the top so there is no room for air. Also, you really can make ice cubes with leftover wine! Wine does freeze (check out our recipe for sangria popsicles!) and you can harmlessly microwave it for a few seconds when you’re finally ready to have another glass. You can also use your wine-cubes in cooking or to keep your other glass of wine cold without watering it down. Amazing, right?
So there you have it, all the basics to storing wine. Now get out there and find some good wine to drink! Our tasting room is open everyday for wine tastings and sales, and our staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about wine. You can also send any wine questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.