Cruising

How to Store Wine Aboard

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Wine connoisseurs will always agree that life is too short to drink bad wine. But wine can be difficult to keep on a sailboat.

Boxed wines have obvious advantages. They are easy to store and the vacuum bag inside the box keeps wine airtight, even after opening. If you like, you can discard the box, but beware of chafe when storing bags on their own. In Central America we’ve found wine sold in liter boxes similar to juice boxes. These keep well aboard, even if a box gets lost in the bilge! Some, of course, spurn boxed wine and swear by corked bottled wine. With care, this can also be stored safely.  

Wine changes composition with light or UV infiltration, so it should always be stored in a dark place. Corked bottles must be stored on a slant or on their side so the corks stay moist and don’t dry out. Consistent temperature and high humidity are good for wine. Cooler is better, however, and in the tropics, cooler is a challenge. Usually it is coolest in the bilge below the waterline.

Odors can permeate a cork, a box or a bag, so you should never store wine in an area with strong fumes. Obviously, you should keep it well away from your engine and generator. You should also be aware that even onions or garlic can have adverse effects.

A boat floating is constantly in motion. If storing fine well-aged wine, you should try to limit its movement by storing it amidships near the boat’s centerline. But really you are best off drinking the wine promptly. If you want to keep wine aboard for long periods, it’s best to store young, less expensive wine. The boat’s motion helps to age the wine and may actually improve the flavor.

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