Whether you are a long-time aficionado or a newcomer to the fascinating and tasty world of wines, you may be asking yourself one all-important question: How should I store the bottle or bottles I now have in my possession? While the temperature might be the first concern that comes to mind, there are others to consider as well.
Cool is Good
Of all environmental factors, heat is the most harmful to wine. Ideally, you should keep your cabernet sauvignon or merlot at between 45° F and 65° F. It should not surpass 70° F; if it does, you risk flat flavors and aromas.
That being said, don’t over-do it when it comes to the refrigeration of your vino. Avoid storing it for any length of time in your kitchen fridge as temperatures there usually dip down below 40°F to keep your meats, produce and other perishables safe. The environment can also eventually dry out corks, allowing air to enter the bottle and damage the wine. In addition, never place your wine in places where it could freeze, including your garage in winter.
Strive for Steady Temperatures
Even more than maintaining a constant 55°F is taking steps to ensure that your wine is not subjected to sharp changes in temperature. This situation can cause the liquid to expand and contract with the potential of seepage or even of the cork popping out altogether. That being said, don’t get too upset if your collection gets exposed to thermal variations now and then. Even if you see some wine bubbling out over the cork, don’t automatically assume it is ruined. The only way to tell is to fully open the bottle and try a sip.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Ultraviolet rays from the sun and wine don’t mix; they can cause your pinot noir to age prematurely and lose its flavor. Therefore, do your best to keep your bottles out of the rays. Incandescent bulbs are probably the least damaging to your collection over time. Give Humidity a Passing Nod If you have a wine collection that costs as much as your house, you will probably choose to have it stored professionally in an environment where humidity is rigidly controlled at 70 percent, which is thought to be the optimal moisture level. Conventional wisdom says that this keeps corks from drying out and damaging the wine’s aroma and flavor. As long as you store your collection in a place where the humidity is between 50 and 80 percent, you should be fine. A pan of water or a humidifier can be very helpful if conditions are too dry or moist
Keep it Horizontal
In general, the best way to store your bottles is lying down so that the liquid within stays in contact with the cork and keeps it moisturized. This is also a great space-saving storage model.
In the end, wine storage is not as overwhelming as it may first seem to the casual or novice collector. Choose a cool, dark place such as a basement; in lieu of that, pick a spot that is removed from sunlight and temperature extremes. If you like, you can invest in a moderately priced wine refrigerator, which can go a long way toward keeping your reds and whites in their optimal surroundings. Perhaps most important of all, don’t let your concerns about storage diminish your love of collecting, drinking and sharing your favorite wines with family and friends. Isn’t that why you started this hobby in the first place?