Corkscrew - To have and to hold

Strategies for wine storage

?If you haven’t tasted bad wine, you haven’t lived to appreciate the good stuff. Like gulping spoiled milk — especially right out of the jug — you know turned wine when you experience it. Wine that has been badly stored (or “cooked” in industry parlance), tastes flat and musty, not grapey. It’s not performing the way the winemaker intended, so it behooves us to pay homage to his/her efforts and try to maintain its freshness. Not to mention preserve our investment in the product. Maybe you received a few bottles over the holidays that you’d like to save for a while ... for that special occasion? Maybe a friend boastfully spent beaucoup bucks for a gift and you’re worried about holding it until you find the right time to drink it? No worries, since there are ways to save that bottle from destruction, without spending extra cash on a fancy wine fridge.

Just to clear something up — 95 percent to 98 percent of all wine is meant to be consumed within the first year after bottling. Not all wine should age, especially that fun $8 Australian Shiraz with the pretty label. If you have four or five bottles like this sitting on the kitchen counter, don’t worry about storage unless the rack is near a heater or a window with bright sun — two elements that ruin wine quickly. But if you’re unintentionally morphing into a “collector” with more than 50 bottles, you need to start thinking about stabilizing them until you can get to drinking them, whether it’s two or 20 years later.

There are five basic conditions that affect wine: temperature, light, humidity, activity and bottle angle. Rapid temperature fluctuations — not the indoor 10-degree transition between summer and winter, but from a refrigerator to a hot car for an extended period — are the most damaging to the flavor. The optimum temperature lies in the 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit range, but the majority of my collection stays at 74 degrees year-round and I haven’t been disappointed. But I keep my babies away from light as well. Clear bottles fall prey to ultraviolet rays, which can prematurely age a wine and rob it of character.

Humidity affects only wines with corks, which can shrivel in the bottle’s neck and allow oxygen to enter. To avoid this wine-killing element, keep humidity in the 70 percent range if possible. Most air conditioners achieve this level for you, but standard refrigerators are not optimal since the humidity is normally too high, the temperature too low, and the motor activity too shaky. Wine prefers calmness, like most humans, so storing bottles next to the stereo speakers might be something to avoid.

Bottle angle — storing wine horizontally — keeps the cork moist so it doesn’t dry up. To avoid this issue completely, buy wines sealed with a screwtop, a superior capping system for most everyday wines.

If you’re keeping a bottle around for more than a few weeks, keep your wine in a dark closet where the A/C cools it down. When you’re ready to crack the seal, it will reward your careful efforts.

Recommended wines

Stoneleigh 2003 Riesling Marlborough. SW = 4. Image Image Image Image Image . $16. Like an enormous fruit basket smushed into one flavor, with lime, tangerine and apple cohabitating. Sweet but so balanced, it’s practically perfect.

Valiano 2002 Chianti Classico Poggio Teo. SW = 2. Image Image Image Image Image . $20. Sweet, ripe raspberries awash your tongue with cherry, leather and earth following. Approachable, smooth and elegant. Worth twice the price.

PULL INTO PORT — Salud! Cooking & Lifestyle School inside Harry’s Farmers Market presents an introduction to the underrated world of port and other fortified wines Thurs., Jan. 27, 7-9 p.m. Expert Don Reddicks will discuss the history and production process of these wines. Cost is $45 per person. 1180 Upper Hembree Road, Roswell. 770-664-6300.

NEW FESTIVAL IN TOWN — The Atlanta Fine Wine Festival makes its debut Sat., Feb. 19, from 2-6 p.m. at the Mason Murer Fine Art. The event is an opportunity to sample more than 300 wines, including rare, allocated and limited-release wines from some of the world’s renowned wineries and vineyards. Sample gourmet nibbles provided by Murphy’s, Portofino, Toulouse, Sotto Sotto, Woodfire Grill, One Midtown Kitchen and Two Urban Licks. A silent charity auction will benefit Hospice Atlanta. Tickets are $100 per person. 199 Armour Drive. Visit for more info.

Black Bear Tavern — Bottles of red and white wines every Tuesday for $12. 1931 Peachtree Road. 404-355-9089.

Cafe at East Andrews — Each week, the restaurant offers Wine Down Wednesdays, with bottles of wine for half price. Included in the promotion is the “Cellar List,” so patrons have the chance to sample high-quality wines like Silver Oak and Opus One. 56 E. Andrews Drive. 404-869-1132.

Cheetah — Wine, Women & Thong every third Friday of each month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Executive Room. The $15 event includes front door cover, Executive Room admission, hors d’oeuvres and wine. The next tasting is Fri., Jan. 21. 887 Spring St. 404-892-3037.

D’Vine Wine Bar and Shop — Come enjoy a wine event every day of the week (with the exception of Sunday). To mention just a few: Monday from 6-8 p.m. is D’Vine’s Uncorked Night, where customers can sample all open bottles for $12. From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays, D’Vine has wine tastings of six to eight themed wines. Wine Knowledge Wednesdays include classes by expert Michael Bryant, trivia and a four-course dinner. 5486 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. 770-350-9463.

Eclipse di Luna — Enjoy a wine tasting event the first Tuesday of every month from 6-7 p.m. For $10, it includes tapas and bottomless glasses of six to eight wines. 764 Miami Circle. 404-846-0449.

Eno — Blind tasting special offered every Tuesday. Those who correctly identify an unknown wine receive a complimentary glass. Restricted to Tuesday bar hours, at the bar only. Every Wednesday, Mediterranean wine and tapas. $5 a glass, $3 a plate. 6-8 p.m. Also, Eno presents a wine tasting special every Thursday. Admission of $25-$35 includes three to five wines from different regions around the world served like a flight. 6-8 p.m. 800 Peachtree St. 404-685-3191.

Flying Biscuit Cafe, Candler Park — Take advantage of the Fabulous Fixed Price Friday Wine Tasting Dinner every Friday. The $25 event includes a three-course meal and paired wines. 1655 McLendon Ave. For info and reservations, call 404-687-8888.

Inman Park Patio — Every Monday night, wines by the bottle are half-off. 1029 Edgewood Ave. 404-659-5757.

Java Monkey — Wine tasting every other Thursday on the patio. The next tasting — which includes music and chair massage — will be Thurs., Jan. 20. Sample featured wines and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. $15. 7-9 p.m. 425 Church St. 404-378-5002.

Murphy’s — Wine tasting Tuesdays start at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $10 for tasting, with $5 off any entree. 997 Virginia Ave. 404-872-0904.

SoHo — Every Wednesday night is “flight night.” Beginning at 5:30 p.m., bar manager J.D. Doyle leads participants on a tasting tour of regions. In January, SoHo embarks on a “Wine Tour Down Under,” featuring wines from Australia and New Zealand. Prices range from $17-$19. 4300 Paces Ferry Road. 770-801-0069.

Spice — Half-priced bottles of wine every Tuesday, 6 p.m.-closing. Choose from more than 100 wine varietals. Also, “Sipping from the Vine” wine tasting and complimentary hors d’oeuvres every Thursday, 6-8 p.m. $10 per person. 793 Juniper St. 404-875-4242.

Star Provisions — Wine tasting every Wednesday, 7-8 p.m. Reservations required. 1198 Howell Mill Road. 404-365-0410, ext. 1111.

Vine — Each Monday, the complete wine list of more than 160 wines by the bottle and 40 by the glass is 50 percent off. Every Wednesday, the restaurant offers a tasting of at least six wines from 6-8 p.m. Cost is $10, which can be applied to your dinner check to receive $10 off, rendering the wine tasting free. Every Sunday, Vine holds a three-course wine pairing dinner for $27.95. Reservations are encouraged. 404-892-2393. 1190 N. Highland Ave.

Vinocity — Exotic dinners paired with bottomless glasses of wine from a specific region every Sunday, starting at 5:30 p.m. Prices vary by the week. And Mondays, a $5 wine tasting is held from 6-11 p.m. Three or four selections presented like a flight. 36 13th St. 404-870-8886.

E-mail or fax information to 404-420-1402 at least two weeks prior to event.