People store wine for a variety of reasons. Maybe we found a wine we loved on a wine tour, and bought a case. Maybe friends brought too many bottles for a housewarming party. And maybe we invested in some age worthy wines, and they need to be "cellared." While the last one requires a bit more effort, especially for those of us in cramped NYC living spaces, there are a couple of simple rules anyone can follow, to help preserve their wine.
- Store bottles on their side
- Store wine in a cool, dark place
The most important thing to remember about storing your wine is its position. To preserve your wine, you need to store it on its side. This keeps the cork from drying out and allowing too much air to get into the bottle, oxidizing the wine.
Ideally, wine should be stored at cool temperatures, around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and out of direct light. Too much heat will "cook" a wine, and too much sunlight or direct artificial light will change the flavors. If you are unable to store it in a cool location, it should at least be protected from fluctuations in temperature. This means you should avoid storing it on top of your refrigerator, where the heat rising from the motor will swing the temperature of your wine frequently.
Most wine made today is meant to be consumed right away, within a year or two of when it was released. Of the finer quality wines, very few whites are meant to be aged, though some of the heavy bodied white wines can improve with age. Strong, tannic reds can age for several years, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. If you're like us, all of this is nonsense: we buy wine to drink it, not to store it.
Since many people don't have access to temperature controlled cellar spaces to store their wine collections, wine fridges make an excellent alternative. A small under-counter wine cooler can easily store 30 to 40 bottles at optimal temperatures and humidity.
For those that have the room and the space, a true wine cellar is a thing of beauty. Racks of wine bottles and cases in a finely crafted stone grotto, with its own tasting room is something we can all strive for, but our whole point is that wine is meant to be enjoyed, no matter how you store it. Just remember the two simple rules from above.