Whether you have a 12-bottle rack or a full wine cellar, plan to age the bottles for decades or want to drink it tonight, the way you store your wine can have lasting effects on its taste. We asked Brian Dickson, manager at Vintage Mattituck wine store, the rules for taking the best care of your collection.
AVOID THE THREE ENEMIES OF WINE.
Those would be oxygen, heat and light. Oxygen can help to open up a wine by enhancing aromas and flavors, but leave a bottle open for too long and it will turn. “You start to get these vinegar notes, and it essentially spoils the wine,” said Dickson.
Heat has a more scientific effect, completely changing the molecular makeup of the wine. “Cooked wines — wines that are exposed to heat — have a very harsh taste,” Dickson said.
Light is an enemy for those looking to store wines over the long term, he added: “It’ll give you very sulfuric or cabbage notes if something has been exposed to light for a very long time.
PICK YOUR BEST SPOT.
The general rule is cool, dark places, free from temperature swings, like a guest bedroom closet. “It doesn’t have to be the most perfect place,” Dickson said. “The idea is making the best choice you can with the space you have.” Lay bottles on their side to keep the cork moist and the seal intact in a space that ideally stays around 55 degrees.
Places to avoid? The garage with its drastic temperature changes. The laundry room with its strong detergent aromas. “Anything that omits strong smells or chemical odors — wine likes to be by itself in its own protective environment,” Dickson said. The top of the refrigerator is “one of the worst places to keep it in your house,” he continued. “Not only is heat coming off the back of the fridge, but it’s higher in your house where it’s more likely to be warmer, and there’s a compressor on your refrigerator that every time it kicks on it’s going to vibrate.”
DON’T STORE IT FOREVER.
“Most wines you don’t need to lay down for the long term,” Dickson said. So, drink up! If you are looking for wines to age, stick to Old World regions like Italy, Spain and France. “Their winemaking style is made for them to be laid down to slowly develop over time. And it’s not always a price point thing,” he said. “If you’re looking for long term storage, it’s usually higher tannin, larger bodied. Things like that tend to age longer, which gives you that ability to keep it in your cellar compared to a wine that’s a younger, brighter, lighter style.”
THE CONVERTED CLOSET
Leah Zara and her fiancé turned an existing closet in their Southold home into this insane wine storage space using different-sized racks from Wine Cellar Innovations, a DIY wine storage manufacturer. “It took some trial and error to get to the configuration that would fit correctly and also give us the right mix of different sizes and types of racks, but it ultimately turned out exactly how we were envisioning,” she said. The space holds about 650 bottles with areas for many different-sized bottles. “This allows us to be free and creative with our collecting — which was the ultimate goal when building the cellar.”
THE WALL OF WINE
Sara Colodner had this wine set up in her dining room by a local contractor in her house in Mattituck. “[My husband and I] were considering buying a large piece of art for the dining room but thought it would be an interesting visual, and we are big consumers of wine,” she said. It holds exactly 437 bottles of wine and was designed by Bernheimer Architecture.
THE GREAT GLASS WINE CELLAR
This spectacular 1000-bottle wine cellar was custom built on a waterfront estate in Mattituck, which was on the market at press time. A refrigeration and condensing system controls temperature and humidity. Boasting an open and transparent layout, this climate controlled cellar features an all glass enclosure for extraordinary views of the wine selection, not only inside, but from the outside as well.
THE BASEMENT MAKEOVER
This minimalist design wine rack was built by local woodworker Travis Jimenez in the home of Orient resident Melissa Rockwell. “We had cases upon cases of wine all mixed up on our basement floor,” she said. Now, they have a spot to store 506 of their favorite local wines all labeled and on display.