Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Mailbag: How to Store Wine

Your Questions Answered by Vino Joe

How to Store Wine Question

Wine questions answered by Vino Joe


Is it OK to store red wine (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) at room temperature if it was previously stored properly in a walk-in cellar? I’m moving from a large house with a cellar to a small house with only a portable wine unit that won’t accomodate the amount of bottles I have. Any help you can give would be appreciated.


Generally speaking, “room temperature” — which in most homes is about 72 degrees fahrenheit — is a bit too warm for aging wines. However, “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”, right?

The ideal temperature for wine storage is in the 50-55 F range. Unless you have a temperature-controlled wine cave, or a deep cellar, that’s next-to-impossible in most homes. However, what are nearly if not more important than the temperature are three other factors: darkness, humidity, and temperature consistency. While keeping a wine in a 72-degree environment isn’t the ideal, if you can be certain that it is ALWAYS 72 degrees, there is little or no light, and there is some humidity, then the bottle should hold up much better than if stored in a place that (a) has wild temperature fluctuations; (b) in direct sunlight; (c) has dry air; or (d) any combination of the three.

That said, find the bottom of a closet, or underneath stairs as a possible location for your wines. But don’t expect them to age gracefully over a long period of time. If you have expensive bottles in your collection, that need several years’ aging, and you can’t afford/fit a wine cave, then you may want to consider renting cellar space or finding a friend with a good cellar who can hold the wines for you. Or, do what I do — drink them up quickly!

BYOB BBQ Question


Is it rude to write on an invitation to a BBQ: ‘Bring a Bottle!’ ?


No, absolutely not. Assuming that the host is providing all the food, fixins’, space, entertainment, and cleaning up afterward, I think it’s OK to suggest that guests bring a bottle. In the US, it’s common for the food at barbecues and other parties to be supplied by the guests (ex., one brings the potato salad, another brings cookies, etc.), so asking guests to bring a bottle is a fair request, in my book. (But then, there surely are people who disagree vehemently with this idea, so don’t count on me 100%.)

If you’re hesitant, and you’re inviting wine-conscious guests, one way out of it is to turn the BBQ/party into a theme, and make it fun, such as “BYOBB – Bring Your Own Best Bottle”, or similar. I was once invited to a “Chardonnay Brunch” where everyone was asked to bring Chardonnays from different parts of the world, for comparison.

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  1. traceywalters says:

    I bought myself a wine cave. I can’t find it online but its a bit like this: but a bit smaller and more reasonably priced. It keeps wine at the perfect temperature. You can taste the difference. Or at least I pretend I can!

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