Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier
What Wine Wants
One of the questions I am asked often is “What is the best way to store wine?” Temperature, humidity, light…oh my! Since I don’t have all of these answers and am by no means an expert, I decided to ask my dear friend, Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier for his insights.
I have known Evan for thirty years; we were 1 when we met! 🙂 Evan is multi-talented and such a genuine and humble person. A bit of background on this wine and food guru is in order.
Evan Goldstein is one of the nation’s most prolific food and wine industry veterans. Evan’s food and wine career started in the renowned kitchens of Paris and California.
In 1984 he joined his mother, Chef and Author Joyce Goldstein, in opening the celebrated San Francisco restaurant Square One.
In 1987 Evan became the eighth American and youngest ever at the time to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier examination.
Since 1990 Evan has created wine education programs and service hospitality schools with Seagram Chateau & Estates Wines Company, Diageo, Allied Domecq, and most recently, as the Vice President of Global Wine & Brand Education at Beam Wine Estates.
In addition, Evan continues to train and examine candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers as a Founding Board member.
Evan is the author of several books including: Five Star Service, Perfect Pairings, Daring Pairings, and Wines of South America.
Wow, right? This accomplished and highly respected Master Sommelier and chef generously offered his wine storage wisdom to me without hesitation. No words can express my gratitude.
Evan Goldstein says…
While not everyone has the means, space or dollars for a dedicated wine storage unit or customized cave, anyone can take advantage of a basic understanding of what wine wants to optimize its storage and ability to age. The following are basic considerations that one should consider when creating an ideal wine storage ecosystem!!
Temperature is the #1 key: Heat, and especially longer-term exposure to it, is bad for wine. Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine far faster and, if it gets much hotter, your wine may actually ‘cook’,” resulting in tired aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F (with 55° F is cited as close to ideal). Don’t get too anxious if you get intermittent heat spikes; wine can handle a bump in degree change if it is not prolonged.
Refrigeration: Keeping wines in your household refrigerator is fine for up to a couple weeks, but it’s not a good bet for the longer term. The ongoing cold and lack of moisture can eventually dry out corks, potentially allowing air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine. All the more reason to keep them on their side in the fridge too. Finally, don’t keep your wine anywhere it might freeze (an unheated garage in winter, forgotten for hours in the freezer while you try to expedite chilling it down). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork.
Keep it in the dark: Wine does not like light. Whether in a retail store window, in your kitchen or simply standing up in a room waiting to be enjoyed. Darkness is a wine’s BFF over time. So, find a space (corner of your closet, under the stairs or in your garage) that will minimize the light exposure and keeps the wine in as much darkness as possible. By the way, one of the reasons why vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re added protection for the wine!
Balanced humidity: Nobody likes to be in uncomfortable conditions where humidity is concerned. Too dry and we shrivel up and need moisturizer and Chapstick or too wet and we need to keep changing our clothes and feel sticky and clammy. Like us, wine likes a nice and comfortable environment — conventional wisdom suggests that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70 percent but that’s conservative. Anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent humidity is considered safe.
Lay it on its side: Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically should keep the cork from drying out. However, that’s for the long haul. If you intend to store a bottle for more than six months, do it. But if you intend to drink bottles in the near- to mid-term, or if the bottles have alternative closures (screw caps, glass or plastic corks), it is not obligatory.
Avoid movement: While it will not, per se, hurt the wine, like us, wine doesn’t like to be shaken up. While there’s no empirical proof, a bottle that has been subject to ongoing shaking (think of being kept in a rack on top of the fridge) will come off tighter and more closed up than one that has not. The more relaxed the wine, the more open it will be!
A Note of Thanks
I want to acknowledge the time, thought and energy that Evan put into composing this article. He has an incredibly full schedule and my request for his input was one of many on his desk. Thank you, Evan for saying ‘yes’, for imparting wine storage wisdom to my KCNV connections and most of all for being my dear, dear friend.
Cheers, to you!