Storing wine anywhere in the world can pose a problem for most of us, but Hong Kong in particular can be even more challenging.
Not all of us own a wine fridge due to many factors, one of the reasons is when living in Hong Kong, we are all very limited in terms of space and a wine fridge may or may not factor in as a decorative item in one's household, although if you are reading this, you obviously do appreciate wine and so a wine fridge should be classified as decor.
However, space is not the main factor we are dealing with here and if you do not own a wine fridge, the heat and humidity that comes with living in HK can cause a lot of problems.
Let's have a look at how you can store your wine properly without owning a wine fridge.
Now wouldn't this be ideal in Hong Kong? If Only!
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1. Keep Your Wine In The Dark
It is important to note that wine should be kept away from light, especially direct sunlight. UV rays from the sun can cause the wine to become 'light struck', which ultimately causes reduction and will result in your wine smelling like a footballer's gym sock i.e. boiled garlic and cabbage. Not pleasant!
Darker bottles are more resistant (yes this is the reason why there are darker bottles) to the UV rays and some bottles have UV filters built into the glass, but this does not mean it will be protected forever.
So to rather be safe than sorry, avoid all light if possible. If not, then wrap the bottle in a cloth or leave it inside the box that you bought it in. The ideal places for storage are your pantry, the bottom of your closet or under your bed.
2. Keep Storage Temperature Regulated
If keeping wine for an extended period of time, it is important that the storage temperature is regulated and consistant (this is where a wine fridge helps). Without a wine fridge, storing wine at what is considered an ideal temperature between 10-13oC is pretty impossible, unless you live in Canada and can just toss them in the snow.
However, wine can still lay and relax at around 20oC. This is where the dark room comes in handy without any direct sunlight. Also, living in Hong Kong, every apartment has an aircon so when at home, especially during summer, we will without a doubt keep the aircon blasting and this will help keep temperature regulated.
You never want the storage room to exceed 24oC as this will result in 'heat damage' and cause your wine to turn brown in colour and taste flat and sour. Also, if there is to much fluctuation in temperature, wines with a cork will be more susceptible to damage as the temperature fluctuations cause the cork to expand and contract, which will allow more oxygen to penetrate as well as after time, the cork will eventually lose its elasticity, become brittle and break and then a you will have a leakage of wine, which would be such a shame!
3. Maintain a 75% Humidity
This may sound like an impossible task as humidity most likely exceeds 75% most of the year in Hong Kong, but an ideal humidity of 75% is important to keep corks moist and minimise evaporation through the cork. I'd suggest buying a dehumidifier to regulate your humidity at home!
This is me in 40 years time. I can't wait for this day!
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4. Store Corked Wines On Their Side
As mentioned, it is important to keep a cork moist. With the wine laying on its side, the cork will constantly be in contact with the wine helping to maintain the moisture along with the humidity. If you store the bottle upright, the cork will not be in contact with the wine and the humidity can't help forever as the moisture content just from humidity is not enough. The cork will eventually dry out, oxygen will get in and then your wine is ruined.
5. When Serving Wine, Make Sure To Adjust The Temperature
Nobody wants to drink a wine you've just pulled out from your closet and drink it at 20+oC. Make sure that you bring the wine to its desired drinking temperature before serving. Different wines are enjoyed at different temperatures, so here is a guide to the best serving temperatures for different styled wines.
- Sparkling Wine, Ice Cold (3-7oC)
- Light-bodied whites, Ice Cold (3-7oC)
- Medium-Full-bodied whites, Cold (7-13oC)
- Rosé, Cold (7-13oC)
- Light-bodied reds, Wine Fridge/Cellar Temperature (13-16oC)
- Medium-bodied reds, Wine Fridge/Cellar Temperature (13-16oC)
- Full-bodied reds, Room Temperature (16-20oC)
- Fortified wines, Room Temperature (16-20oC)
Now after all this, I'd still recommend investing in a wine fridge as it is pretty much 100% guaranteed that your wine will be stored correctly (We sell all sizes at very good prices at The Flying Winemaker - FYI) or if you have a larger collection, there are alternative wine storage facilities across Hong Kong to look into.
To be honest, the reason why I'm saying this is because I don't want to be held liable if your wine is ruined by storing it at home. Just kidding, if you follow these basic steps, your wines will be perfectly fine. If not, I'm putting out a disclaimer that it is not my fault ;-)