help me keep my cheap wine from becoming expensive vinegar
August 12, 2010 2:30 PM   Subscribe

How should I store my wine? Considering that I almost never buy wine that costs more than 10 or 20 dollars, I don't think it's worth it for me to buy some fancy wine refrigerator that costs hundreds of dollars, but the temperature in my living room ranges from 68F to 90F (20C to 32C) and the insides of the closets are even hotter.

I usually only have around 6 bottles at a time, so could I buy a cheap mini refrigerator or a cooler of some sort? Is there a way of insulating part of the closet so it can be used as storage?
posted by betweenthebars to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
How long are you keeping each bottle?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:30 PM on August 12, 2010


Do you have a basement? That's always wear I'd store wine for longer periods of time.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2010


White or red or rose? Keep whites and roses cool. Stick 'em in the fridge before serving. Keep reds at room temperature - but definitely at the lower end of the temps you quote there. If they have actual cork stoppers, lay 'em down at an angle of about ten - 20 degrees from horizontal. For wines under 20 bucks it really isn't worth getting any more precious than that. :-)
posted by Decani at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm either embarrassed or proud to say that I have an open (recorked, but not sealed, obv) bottle of $10 shiraz sitting on the kitchen counter. I've been throwing a couple tablespoons into cooking and taking little slugs from time to time. If I remember, I put it in the fridge. It doesn't taste substantially different from when I opened it in, oh, June.

I live in North Florida and my indoor temps are from 70F to 105F (in the summer. In the winter, it's more like 30F to 65F, and then I leave the butter out too.).

This is probably your worst result, and for the wines you're buying, it's not bad.

My unopened bottles of $8 wine are stored horizontally on a wine rack.

My cats report that the coolest part of the house is under the bed, so how bout storing your wine horizontally, under the bed, like in a shoebox?
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:50 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Put 'em in the fridge. Yes, the reds too; just remember to take them out well before opening them. I have had your problem and used this technique (with some very nice wines, too), and it worked fine. Heat is the worst possible thing for wine; cold is fine (as long, obviously, as they don't get near freezing).
posted by languagehat at 3:25 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's red wine - the white is kept in the fridge and it usually doesn't stay around long enough to be a storage problem. I don't serve red wine very often because I don't want to mess up my (extremely ugly) beige carpet.

For now, I am going to put a couple of bottles under the bed and a couple in the fridge and hope for the best.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:34 PM on August 12, 2010


I would get a wine fridge, you can find a 6- or 8-bottle one at Target for less than $100. You should be keeping the wine cool (I have my fridge set at 37 degrees or something, which a couple of books seem to agree on) and then take out reds like 30 minutes before you drink them.

The reason I say get a wine fridge? Because when friends see a well-stocked wine fridge, they don't think you're an alcoholic. Half a dozen bottles of wine in your regular fridge screams alcoholic to me, for whatever reason.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:38 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wine is not delicate. If you're not storing it for 2+ years, then as long as it doesn't freeze or cook (expand past the cork) it will be fine. Ideally you'd keep it cooler because red wine is better served relatively cool, 60F or so, but if that's not easy to arrange just pop it in the fridge before serving. Or store it in the fridge, as languagehat suggests, then pull it out in time to warm up a bit.

If you want to keep a few bottles for awhile get a styrofoam shipping container for a case of wine. That has enough thermal insulation to protect the wine from hourly temperature variations.
posted by Nelson at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2010


Keep it in the fridge.
Take a red out 20-30 minutes before serving, a white maybe 3 minutes.
No need to be fussy unless it's Chateau Lafitte.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2010


Wikipedia has a whole page about wine storage, if you don't have a cool storage area, it is better to store the bottles upright during warm weather as this will slow down the maturation process.
posted by Lanark at 4:33 PM on August 12, 2010


This thing facilitates fridge storage if you have more than just a couple of bottles.
posted by spasm at 4:33 PM on August 12, 2010


I have often wondered whether specially designed thermoses for 750ml wine bottles would find enough of a market to be worth manufacturing.

I'm not altogether even sure that this would work in the first place, because I don't know how much heat the process of maturation in the bottle gives off (or absorbs). Fermentation gives off quite a bit of heat, much more than enough to cook a wine which was fermented inside a thermos. Maturation must give off less, but it wouldn't take much to raise the temperature to unacceptable levels within an efficient thermos.

For pure water, I'd imagine a good thermos would have no difficulty maintaining the temperature very close to the average ambient temperature for the previous two days.
posted by jamjam at 6:07 PM on August 12, 2010


The reason I say get a wine fridge? Because when friends see a well-stocked wine fridge, they don't think you're an alcoholic. Half a dozen bottles of wine in your regular fridge screams alcoholic to me, for whatever reason.

Once I put the bottles inside, it did make my fridge look a bit unhealthy. I'll be moving next summer, so that might be the time to get a wine fridge. Any suggestions?
posted by betweenthebars at 6:54 PM on August 12, 2010


If you're only spending $10-20 per bottle, you need to be drinking the wine as you purchase it. That's not really the sort of wine you age.

It's my impression that, as long as you drink the wine within a reasonable period of time, temperature isn't very important.

One thing that might help - in the summer, when your home approaches 90 degrees, drink white and rose, which should go into your refrigerator.

I don't know what InsanePenguin is talking about - a few bottles of wine in a refrigerator does not scream "alcoholic" to me, at all. It screams "someone who likes a nice cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc of a summer evening".

If you don't serve red wine very often, don't buy it. If someone gives you red wine and it sits around for more than a year or so, you should probably dump it.
posted by Sara C. at 7:02 PM on August 12, 2010


Think hard about how much it's worth to keep your fridge from looking "unhealthy," whatever that means. Those wine fridges can suck juice. (See the other post this week concerning mini-fridges for some numbers; a wine fridge is basically a mini-fridge with pretensions and a higher temperature setting.) Putting wine in your main fridge doesn't cost you anything, and may actually save you some money by taking up empty space in your fridge. Even a small, efficient wine cooler like this will cost $70 or so a year in electricity (assuming the national average $0.12/kWh). A bigger one like this, if the numbers are to be believed, could rival your main fridge. Personally, I'd rather spend the money on wine than carbon, and the hell with what anyone thinks about my fridge contents. But YMMV I guess.

Note that anyone selling an "EnergyStar" wine cooler is lying to you. There is no such thing as the devices do not qualify for the program, period.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:22 PM on August 12, 2010


I don't know what InsanePenguin is talking about

I dunno, it just seems weird to have a half dozen bottles in the fridge, to me. I can't really place why, it just does.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2010


Yeah, if you don't have a lot of wine and you don't have really fancy wine, you don't need a wine fridge. And ignore the "wine in the fridge = alcoholic" talk, that's madness. I did this for years and nobody raised an eyebrow. (Believe me, if you knew my friends you wouldn't think they were keeping quiet to spare my feelings.)
posted by languagehat at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2010


If you're only spending $10-20 per bottle, you need to be drinking the wine as you purchase it. That's not really the sort of wine you age.

I'm not sure if it's a matter of intentionally aging the wine so much as it is that the OP only ever consumes a fraction of a bottle in one sitting.

The only issue with wine in the fridge is that it often requires a configuration of your fridge shelves that makes storing everything else less convenient (especially if you store your bottles upright), or you end up with wine bottles rolling all over the place (if you have glass shelves and store your bottles horizontally). There are wine racks designed to fit in your fridge and stack the bottles such that you're not losing too much fridge real estate. The second style I linked to clings on to the bottom of wire fridge shelves, so it's even more space-saving than most designs.
posted by thisjax at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2010


I stored mine on their sides in the vegetable bin at the bottom of the fridge.
posted by languagehat at 3:00 PM on August 13, 2010


I'm not sure if it's a matter of intentionally aging the wine so much as it is that the OP only ever consumes a fraction of a bottle in one sitting.

In which case you work on the bottle you have open already and avoid opening additional bottles if at all possible. Any bottle that's been open for more than a week should probably be thrown out. A bottle of wine only has about 5 glasses in it - if you can't finish it off in a week, you should probably not be buying enough for storage to be an issue.
posted by Sara C. at 9:04 PM on August 13, 2010


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