You may be wondering what to do with that special bottle you got as a wedding gift that came with a card saying “Open on your 10th anniversary!” Or maybe you’ve started to get into wine more, and you would like to hold some of the heartier reds that need at least 5-10 years of aging. Whatever your situation, it’s important that you store your wine properly to avoid an unfortunate experience.
There are three main factors that affect wine: temperature, light, and humidity.
Temperature - storing your wine at a temperature warmer than 65º can cause chemical changes in your wine such as oxidation, reduction, and esterification. In other words, your wine will lose its flavor and will age prematurely. A temperature of about 55º is ideal.
Light - Avoid direct sunlight. Not only will this cause temperature swings, but the UV light will also harm the wine by breaking down the organic compounds in the wine. These compounds make up the flavor and aroma of the wine, so allowing the UV light to enter will have a negative effect on these very basic components of the wine.
Humidity - Humidity mostly has an effect on the wine’s cork. Since corks are naturally all different, most corks will not seal perfectly. However, if the cork is moist, it will expand and fill any space it's imperfections left. If you plan to age more than a couple years, it’s important to keep the cork healthy and moist. The main way to accomplish this is by storing the bottle on its side. By doing so, the cork will stay moist and will expand, preventing any oxygen from entering the wine. If the bottle sits up in a dry room and oxygen does enter the wine, it will turn to vinegar, and the wine you’ve been waiting years to open will be a sour disappointment.
Depending on your budget and number of bottles you plan to store, there are a few options to maintain temperature, light, and humitidy. The most obvious solution is a wine cellar.
Whether it’s a little four-bottle wine cellar that can hide off to the side on your kitchen counter...
...a twelve bottle cellar that could take up a little more counter space...
...or a whole actual walk-in cellar...
...you will be able to age your wine with confidence that it is being properly stored.
If you don’t plan to go out and buy a cellar, you can always do the tried-and-true method of laying the bottles down in a remote place in a closet. Closets are good because they are dark and generally are able to maintain a more consistent temperature than other places in the house. If you have a basement, a closet down there is even better because basements tend to be cooler than the rest of the house. Just make sure it’s a closet that is not frequently used, like a coat closet or the like. If it’s in the clothes closet, it is more likely to be jostled around when looking for a pair of shoes, or exposed to light if the closet is left open.
Good luck, and happy aging!
Source: Studio Vino