Imagine going to your favorite fine dining restaurant, enjoying your preferred type of steak cooked the way you want it. Paired with a bottle of their most exceptional vintage wine, it was the perfect night for you and your spouse.
Auctions provide you with the opportunity to find, bid, and win bottles or crates of your favorite vintage wine. With bottles of this exceptional fermented liquor, you can recreate that memorable moment from the comforts of home. You can enjoy a glass every night with your spouse or on special occasions.
But once you do get your hands on one, or several, how do you ensure that they will stay in prime condition for years? No need to worry as an expert in providing charity auction experiences shares some tips on how to preserve this delicious nectar without going broke while you’re at it.
Why wine goes bad
The presence of oxygen affects things in different ways. In living things, oxygen is essential for survival, while on metal objects, rust forms on exposed surfaces. Leaving wine bottles open, on the other hand, turns that beautiful liquid into vinegar.
Proper storage techniques prevent red wine from going to waste. When carried out correctly, opened bottles can be stored and enjoyed for a week.
There are ways of lengthening the amount of time a bottle of wine can be left open without making a massive investment. For instance, a simple method for keeping your wine fresh longer is to put the cork back after each serving. As inconvenient as it may seem, this small act limits exposure to oxygen, preventing the grape essence from turning sour.
Even a simple fridge does wonders for preserving wine. The cold temperature slows down oxidation and other chemical processes. Putting the cork back and storing it inside a fridge can maintain its quality for up to a week.
Another way to limit exposure to oxygen is to store the wine in an upright position. You may want to put it in a smaller container if you can. If a fridge is not available, keep the wine in a cool, dark place to prevent extreme temperature changes from damaging the quality.
Professional storage tips
1. Use a wine cooler
A cellar or basement is the ideal place for storing several bottles of wine. It is cold, moist, and away from sunlight, the perfect conditions for preserving wine. But if you don’t have a big home or lots of space to use, a wine refrigerator works just as well.
Getting a wine cooler is ideal if you have a few bottles of the fermented grape. Compared to the standard refrigerator which produces cold but dry air, a wine cooler produces cold but moist air. The humidity levels help in preventing the cork from drying out and allowing the oxygen in the bottle.
Consider the size of your current collection before you buy a wine fridge. Collecting wines can become addicting. You want a refrigerator that can adequately hold your collection.
2. Build a cellar
Wine coolers are great if you are just starting out in collecting wines. Most refrigerators are designed to hold a few bottles of wine at the most. Coolers provide quick and easy access to wines and are great if you have wines you intend to consume quickly.
When aging wines, or if you’re planning to store them for three years or more, you will need a cellar. A cellar provides the ideal environment to age and store wines as the temperature and humidity remain constant throughout the year. Being able to control the setting and make more minute changes is recommended if you are an aficionado and would like to admire your collection from time to time.
3. Sideways vs. upright
Storage techniques vary depending on how long you intend to keep the wine or how it is kept sealed. Opened bottles should be stored upright to reduce the surface area exposed to the air. Alternative closure systems such as glass and plastic corks or screw caps can help maintain its freshness for a few months or years, but these are not intended for long-term storage.
The rules change with unopened bottles or for those you plan on keeping for many years. With cellar storage, the wine bottle is stored on its side. Storing the bottle in this method keeps the cork moist. Moist cork keeps the bottle sealed and the air out of the bottle.
Plus, sideways storage is a more practical or safe-efficient way of storing your wines. It allows you to maximize the use of your cellar or basement, allowing you to hold more bottles.
4. Keep it steady
Remember that wines are different from champagnes. Unlike James Bond’s martini or other types of alcoholic beverages, wines should not be shaken or stirred. If you plan on celebrating by spraying your family or friends with alcohol, opt for beer or champagne instead as wines are not designed for such purposes.
Wines contain sediments that give its unique taste. Constant shaking or vibrations prevent the deposits from settling and giving the alcohol a gritty taste.
Vibrations also interfere with the natural aging process, preventing wines from achieving its peak condition over time. As such, you won’t be able to enjoy the results of finely-aged wine.
For people who love to go on picnics, camping trips, or travel in general with a bottle of wine in tow, the answer is simple: bring a cheaper bottle along with you. Keep your prized auction wins at home. This way, you can enjoy the taste of aged wine in its best condition.
Storage is key to keeping wines at their best. Whether you are holding a few of your favorite bottles, or you have a growing collection of the most excellent vintages, you need to think about where and how you are storing your bottles.
Keep these tips in mind and be on your way to keeping your auction wines in good condition for weeks, months, or years to come.
Darran Brown is the CEO and Founder of Go Charity. A graduate of UMASS Amherst, Darran has spent the last 20 years managing auctions across the United States. Having run some of the most successful live and silent auctions in the US, Darran has the insider know-how to every aspect of the industry. From memorabilia to trips and experience hospitality to fundraising 101, Darran is the leading expert on auction management and fundraising success.