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Taste of Wine: Store your wine for peak flavor

can recall not so long ago, when buying wine meant searching for an empty kitchen cabinet near the glasses, to store the wine standing up until being opened by some gull-winged contraption.

Worse yet, squeezing the wines between the frozen food and meat section of the fridge, then thawing it out to drink a wine in shock due to radical temperature changes.

Bottles of wine, in order to give their best to the wine drinker, need to be treated like babies. They are fragile and vulnerable and subject to being wasted and spoiled if some rules are not applied, like fundamentals of light exposure, temperature control, humidity and storage position.

If you consider yourself a collector, you might consider using the services of a wine storage warehouse and store your wine in one of their temperature-controlled lockers with high security and computerized supervision of your collection, for a monthly fee. At the other end of the spectrum, you could measure a space in a corner of your garage or closet and fill it with bottles and hope that they won’t spoil in time.

Both game plans are not necessary for the majority of us because there are a vast variety of wine coolers and refrigerators that offer technology to protect your wine, and nurture it to just the right flavor for the occasion. 

When it comes to storage, there are three types of wines you will want to store.  The most important are the Cabernets and Burgundies from France and Napa/Sonoma in California, and elite Italian wines. These wines need time to mature to complexity due to tannins in the grape skins that preserve and add flavor to these wines. Then there are other wines that are unlikely to improve with age that will keep their flavor profile with smart storage. The third category is the budget low-priced wines that will deteriorate right away without the right level of storage. 

Always, no matter if the wine is a collector’s bottle or a pickup for the week, store all bottles on their sides. This prevents the cork from drying out and shrinking.  Of course, the trend to twist caps that don’t have this problem make them an attractive alternative in the wine industry, but they have a difficult time being accepted in most wines that treasure the subtle flavors of a traditional bottle that include a quality cork.

Temperature is the most important element in the preservation of your wine. I prefer 55-degree storage for red wines and 48-degree temperature for whites.  Both these wines, when taken from storage and opened, should remain in place without tasting for some 20 minutes. This is to allow aerating and for the temperature to rise some eight to 10 degrees for a perfectly formed flavor profile of 64 degrees for reds and 56 degrees for whites. 

You can find home wine refrigerators with room for 60 to 300 bottles. Some have dual-zone cooling systems for whites and reds, with shaded glass, oak wood shelving that rolls out to display all your wines, LED lighting and space for a diverse wine collection that fits all sizes snugly. 

You set the desired temperature and the fan-forced cooling system adjusts the interior temperature to match your setting. A security lock protects your wines from sticky fingered intruders.

I recommend keeping an inventory system so you know where your wines are in the storage unit. This can be by vintage year, varietal, wine district or by price points.

Do all this and you will be on your way to a new level of wine enjoyment.

Wine Bytes

L’Auberge Del Mar continues its Wine Wednesday events with its “Market Priced Selection” each Wednesday with your favorite wine and no corkage fee when you dine with them. Live music. Call (858) 259-1515 for details.

BK Cellars in Escondido is celebrating its fourth anniversary as an Urban Winery from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 14. Enjoy a live DJ, paintings and a release of new wines. Forty percent discounts on wines. Details at

Hatfield Creek Vineyards and Winery in Ramona is back with its Sunday Supper starting at 3 p.m. Jan. 14. Menu highlights Rigatoni with creamy mushroom sauce and Italian chicken sausage. Cost is $55 for the public, $45 for club members. Call (760) 787-1102.

Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has its upcoming Friday Tastings from 6 to 8 p.m. with Bordeaux Blends Around the World on Jan. 19. Cost is $30 per person, $20 for club members. Details at

Help provide “Positivity” to families in need at the Namatasting event, held at the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 27, to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego. Join the event for wines, bites, prizes and a blind wine tasting competition for team fun and a unique way to get the most enjoyment from a blind tasting. For details contact Ami Aranha at or (917) 882-5945.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at Go to menu then column. Reach him at to comment or unsubscribe.

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