WINE: The word has numerous adjectives describing a pleasing sensory experience. Wine is romanticised. Poets glorified it. To fully preserve the character and worth of your wine, careful storage is essential.
When deciding upon a method of storage, take into consideration the quantity of bottles, facilities available, the reason why storage is needed and the length of time required.
Ideal storage consists of a dark, cool place with regulated temperature and maintained humidity. If too cold, wine will take longer to age when maturing is aimed at. Too hot and it will start to oxidise – ruining the appearance and taste. White and rose wines should be stored around 10 degrees C, light reds at 12 degrees C and full bodied reds at 18 – 20 degrees C. Sparkling wines are best kept at as low as 7 degrees C. Direct light should be avoided, especially sunlight and fluorescent types.
Storing bottles on their sides versus in an upright position: Screw topped or bottles with synthetic caps can be stored either way whereas corked wines need to lie on their sides to keep the cork moist. Dry corks will let air through.
The best way to age wine is to start with a product of really good quality. Thoroughly research the available young red wines (vintage) and store for up to twenty years (or longer if stored at a professional cellar where wines are recorked when necessary). It will be wise to test your wine once a year for over-ageing. White wine matures faster or do not need ageing at all.
A small wine collection can be stored at home at the bottom of a seldom used built-in cupboard where it can be left undisturbed – especially if it is possible to insulate the area and the door with sheets of foam plastic.
A cellar, if you are lucky to have one, is the better option. Both temperature and humidity can be regulated. A system should be followed as to dates of storage and types of wine. Do not turn the bottles! It will disturb the sediment.
A wine refrigerator is the easiest solution. Such an appliance has two or more different temperature compartments to accommodate various products. It is ventilated and temperature and humidity stay constant.
When you need to store your wine with a professional cellar for any length of time (e.g. When you are temporary relocating or having no space or other means), all of the above measures will be taken care of.