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One Universal Wine No-No

July 8, 2009
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I am concerned the wine posts may be in jeopardy.  In a rare look under the hood, I’ll tell you that categorically the wine posts are the least well read of any on the site.

And I am not happy about that, especially since I enjoy writing them.  If you enjoy reading them, please share them, invite likeminded friends to view them, and comment on them.  Here is an easy link to the category archive for your convenience.  Otherwise they may have to make room for some other topic in the future.

Maybe I just need to find the right day of the week to put up the wine articles.  If you have any other ideas to save this category, I’d love to hear them.

But in the time I have left, I need to make sure I cover the most critical and basic thing about wine.  And the thing that I am constantly amazed to see in the houses of otherwise civilized people.

Never ever.
Never ever store your wine above your refrigerator.

There is a lot about wine that is truly subjective.  There are other things that are not.  This is one of those things.

Before I even tell you why, if there is wine above your refrigerator, move it this very instant.  Or call someone at home, a neighbor perhaps, and have them do it for you.  Let them know it’s ok to break a window or bust a lock if necessary.

I’ll wait.

You are cooking your wine.  Having it up there over your refrigerator.  You do know that to make the inside of the refrigerator cold, the compressor has to make the surrounding air warm?  And you do know that heat rises?

In its most basic un-snobby form, wine is rotten grape juice.  When it goes into the bottle, and a cork goes in, that rotting slows down.  There are three things that can speed the rot up.  Light, heat, and air.

I am not going to tell anyone to buy a temperature and humidity controlled wine storage unit or to build a cellar.  Maybe that is for you and maybe it is not.  For most people these expensive solutions are not necessary.

“But you just said…”

I said, don’t cook your wine by keeping it above the refrigerator.  Some people will take that to mean that wine is a terribly fragile thing and needs to be kept between 55 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit or your precious bottle will be ruined.  Hogwash.

Try to find a cool dark place for your bottles of wine that does not suffer from wild temperature fluctuations.  The bottom of a closet will likely do just fine.  If your wine has a cork, and you plan to let it sit in the closet for a while keep the bottle on its side so the cork doesn’t dry out.  If your wine has a twist cap, I’d stick it straight up.

Do this, and your wine will be fine.  Just remember that the vast majority of fine wine produced today is intended to drink young.  So drink up.  If you are saving a bottle for a special occasion, and nothing seems “special enough” remember OTBN is only seven months away.  It should do the trick.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. jess permalink
    July 8, 2009 12:37 pm

    I like your wine posts!
    I want to be the poor man’s oenophile someday. I’m just having a hard time deciding whether I’m picking up notes of cherry or plum in certain wines.

    Don’t think I’m a total philistine, but lately I’ve been drinking wine out of a short tumbler, Euro-style. This is because both my boyfriend and I are terribly klutzy with wine glasses and we keep breaking them. Someday I hope to have a real, grown-up home with actual space for keeping real wine glasses. I also hope to reach a point where more than one bottle of wine can manage to remain in my home “un-drunk.”

  2. July 8, 2009 1:42 pm

    people acutally store wine above the fridge? blah!

  3. Vanessa permalink
    July 8, 2009 9:08 pm

    Please continue to post on wine, you always have a good prospective. I enjoy reading them, and they have opened my mind and palate to cheap/good bottles of wine.

    The idea that people put their wine above the fridge is frightening..


  4. brownie permalink
    July 9, 2009 11:24 am

    We were given a lovely wine stand by our friends that sits in our dining room. It’s away from a window, but receives indirect sunlight and temperature variations between 65 and 75 degrees year-round.

    Obviously the closet would be better, but are we really ruining the wine we have in this rack? There’s nothing really special there, not that I’d know a special wine if it offered to get me drunk and take advantage of me.

    I could always replace the rotten grape juice with Welch’s 2-liter grape soda (a cousin?), which is far less likely to wither under the effects of sun, heat, or nuclear armageddon.

    • Spencer permalink
      July 19, 2009 10:19 pm

      Brownie – I have become VERY anxious about wine storage lately. When we moved into our place in the Mission I put a wine rack in the closet in the middle of our apartment, and the door to it stays closed almost all the time. Dark, quiet… a place for wine to sleep. And I started buying more wine and keeping things longer. But our apartment does get hot, sometimes into the 80s, and as cold as the low 60s, and I have been worried how the wine was surviving. Well, I recently opened a bottle of wine I bought in Paso Robles 2 years ago, a bottle of Linne Calodo “Cherry Red” that my dad told me was one of the most enjoyable bottles he has ever had. Unfortunately, totally spoiled. Sure it could have been a bad bottle, but I’m pretty sure it’s the high temperatures in our place from time to time. So I got a small wine fridge and anything I care about or will keep for more than a few weeks is going in there. I like the Profussor’s idea about buying another bottle to compare. Let us know how it works out.

      I do think being able to keep some bottles of wine for a few years or more is worth the effort. Look at it like this, when you want to drink a nice bottle of wine, you can go to the store and buy a bottle for $10-20 which is usually 2-3 years old and tastes fine, or you can spend $30-50 for something which is aged a little more and has more balanced tannic structure, developed more complexiy, etc. The thing is, the $10-20 bottle you stick in your cellar or fridge and forget about for a few years (or more) will taste substantially better then. So it’s kind of an investment, if you care about that stuff and buy the right things. On the other hand, I agree that for most nights, something young is perfectly good. Wine -young wine, not, well, you know…

  5. Mama Ass permalink
    July 9, 2009 2:25 pm

    I like your wine posts.
    I used your clues on Italian wine to pick out a DOCG Chianti that seemed good with dinner. Otherwise, I would have walked into the store clueless and anxious about where to start and I would have probably picked a more expensive bottle to be on the safe side.
    I did find it hard to find that snippet of info when I went looking for it, so perhaps I can offer you the advice of more descriptive titles for you wine posts.
    I do want to know why DOCG is better than IGT. It seemed that where I was shopping, all the Chianti was DOCG and all the white was IGT. I could research, but I’m lazy. I’d rather you tell me.

  6. Mama Ass permalink
    July 10, 2009 3:25 pm

    And another thing. So now I have gin in the house since I am in love with the Tom Collins. Can I put gin in the refrigerator? What about Seagram’s V.O. whiskey? I had that bottle above the microwave and oven for years, but brought it down once I realized I could make whiskey sours since I now had simple syrup and lemons. Can I store all my liquor in the refrigerator? I’m running out of closet and counter space.

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