Happy New Year, my hung-over friends. The holidays have passed, and maybe life can return to some semblance of normal now. If you hosted a party, or are known to enjoy fine beverages, you probably ended up with some extra bottles and may not know what to do with them. Yes, you could just drink them, but I can’t write an article on that, so here are some storage tips for wine and beer!
First off I want to clarify what I mean by “storage”. I am not referring to cellaring. This is advice for the armchair connoisseur, who needs to keep a few bottles until they get around to them. There are far better sources than I for serious cellaring. The internet is your friend; go forth and frolic.
Wine faces three adversaries when it comes to storage: temperature, light, and humidity, more or less in that order. Temperature is critical with wine; too high and the wine can “cook” leaving off flavors and aromas, too low and you can dampen desirable elements. Fortunately, it isn’t really that hard to keep wines at a good temperature. The ideal is about 550 Fahrenheit, and yes some fluctuations are allowed. The more stable, the better, but don’t panic if your cellar area varies a bit. Try to keep wine below 750 though.
UV light damages more than just your skin, so try to keep wine bottles in the dark. Something as simple as a cloth bag can achieve this, so, again, this is not worth panicking over.
Humidity is a weird one. Most sites online basically say that humidity isn’t an issue. Unless you live in a desert (oops). I had a hard time finding out exactly how critical it is for short-term storage, though. Unfortunately, the best advice I can offer here is to just keep an eye on the corks. If it looks like a cork has dried out, is seeping, or appears otherwise damaged, move that bottle to the “drink ASAP” list. A damaged cork can indicate a damaged wine, but not always. Try before you toss (exception: if the cork has molded). Humidity also plays a part in keeping a bottle on its side, since this keeps the wine against the cork to keep it damp. This is the kind of knowledge the best limo wine tours will teach you, well if you are paying more attention to the host than drink.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the same ideas for storing wine also apply to beer. The biggest difference is that light, rather than temperature, is the biggest danger to beer. UV light interacts with a chemical found in hops, making light-exposed beers taste “skunky”. So keep your beers in the dark, if nothing else.
The temperature requirements for beer are almost identical to wine (about 550, relatively stable, avoid too hot or too cold).
Unlike wine, beer is probably better stored upright, even if it has a cork. Part of this is to keep air contact with the liquid to a minimum, part of this is to keep yeast-y bits settled at the bottom, and part of this is that the carbonation acts as humidity control within the bottle, so keeping the liquid pressed against the cork isn’t necessary.