That moment when you open a bottle of wine and it's corked. It happens to the best of us. You buy a nice bottle, maybe directly from the winery or somewhere unusual. You keep it there, on your little wine rack, waiting for the perfect moment to open it, maybe with friends or someone special. It could take years for that perfect moment to arrive, but when you finally decide that it's been too long and you feel like you kinda have to to open that bottle, maybe on your own and with a little frustration (believe me, it's hardly ever the same moment you imagined when you purchased that wine), you pop the cork and ta da. It's corked. It has changed colour. It has gone bad, or maybe it was faulty to begin with? Let's be real, it likely wasn't.
Here are some of the key players in the bottle of natural wine you purchased: the winemaker, the vines, the winery, the courier, the bottle shop. But did you know that you play a part in it too, from the moment you purchase that bottle and take it home? It's called storage, and we don't all own a wine cellar. With the wrong storing conditions a lot can go wrong in your wine. I learned it the hard way, and I hope you won't have to, by following these four tips on how to care for your wine at home.
Tip n. 1 - Drink it fresh
You don't need to keep those bottles for an eternity before opening them. You are much better off opening them shortly after buying them because you won't have to find suitable storage solutions and if the wine really is corked you can contact the shop where you bought it and ask for a replacement. And if you enjoy buying lots of wine, I would say maybe try not to cover your house in it, if you are going to struggle to drink it in a timely manner (lesson for self). Another solution, gift a freshly purchased bottle to a friend (not an old one)!
Tip n.2 - Don't store your wines in the kitchen
A bit like medicines really. And yes, I do store most of my wines in the kitchen. Not right above the oven of course, but I gotta do what I gotta do in a London flat. My advice to you is be creative and find a place in your flat or house where there is no exposure to sunlight and it's not too hot. Otherwise, see tip n.1. In addition, try to keep your wines in a horizontal position as much as possible, to prevent the cork to dry out - a dry cork is bad news as it can cause pre mature ageing in your wine. Keep bottles away from light and vibrations too!
Tip n.3 - Buy wine because you're going to drink it, not because of the label
Fancy having a collection of colourful labelled natural wines at home. Sure, we all do, but that should not be the reason why you buy wine that needs to be consumed. If you don't have the ideal storage conditions for wine, I wouldn't advise you to open the cupboard and stare at full, cool bottle without ever opening them.
Tip n.4 - Save the label
An alternative to tip n.3! Buy that bottle with a cool label, drink the wine, stick the label on a note pad and you're done! Memories that last forever, fresh taste. @lurkingwinegirl has a post on Instagram that cleverly explains how to do it - check it out here.
Some natural wines age beautifully, some others are best enjoyed fresh. Is there a rule for this - not really, so when unsure, treat yourself to tip n.1 (or ask an expert).
To all the wines I poured down the sink, I have one thing to say: I'm sorry.