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Don't Torture That Wine!

Updated on October 21, 2009
wine bottles, by misswired
wine bottles, by misswired

Don't Torture That Wine!

A few years ago, I decided to buy bottles of wine for the 12 people I worked most closely with - all software engineers, without any expressed interest in wine. In retrospect, it turns out to be one of my worst Christmas gift ideas ever. I got very few "thank yous" when I gave the gifts, and none later. That's really just fine, but...

The Worst Part of It

I had been very excited about sharing these gifts, and had carefully selected a particularly nice wine for the occasion. After the initial disappointment, the torture went on. Several of my friends did not even bother to take the wine home (or drink it at work) - it just languished there in their cubicles. Which brings us to:

The Worst Things You Can Do To Wine:

Needless to say, the conditions for storing wine in our office environment were atrocious. The arch-enemy of wine, of course, is heat. Unfortunately, one of my friends stashed his vino on top of his overhead bins - the warmest place in the building. (I guess it could have been worse, since heat fluctuation is considerably worse for wine than just keeping it at too warm a temperature.) Wine should be stored at temps in the mid-50's, while a typical office is in the low- to mid-70s.

Next, we come to light exposure. Although incandescent light isn't so bad for wine, sunlight and fluorescent light is really troublesome. Unfortunately, my friend was storing his wine about a foot from a pair of industrial-brightness fluorescent bulbs.

Yet another problem was the humidity, or lack thereof. We're in Colorado, where the humidity is low in summer and non-existent in winter. Wines in a normal living environment hate this - they prefer a constant humidity between 50 and 75%, lest the corks dry out and leak, letting air in, and wine out.

At least the fourth enemy of wine, vibration, did not come into play. Vibration disturbs the bitter sediment, which then interacts with the aging wine. In addition, it can contribute to the loosening of the cork, and the subsequent ruining of the wine.

How To Properly Care For Your Wine

A much better way to store wine, whether a carefully selected gift, or something you've picked up for yourself, is to store it someplace cool (54 degrees F), dark, relatively humid, and vibration free.

If you aren't fortunate enough to have a real cellar in your home (that stays at a constant cool temperature year-round), you can get a 12-bottle wine cooler that will do the job for under $100, like this one. You can find a handy wine cooler buying guide, including "quick pick" wine cooler recommendations, at And, I'd suggest skipping the wine gift for anyone that you don't know, in advance, appreciates a nice wine.

Looking for recommendations on what to put in that new wine cooler? Check out these articles:


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