Most wines found in supermarkets and wine warehouses are meant to be consumed in a week or less, once purchased. On the other hand, if you’re looking to start a collection of fine wines and store them to mature for months or years, we’ve compiled a few tips to get you started. Though a lot of wine enthusiasts quibble over the “best” way to store fine wines, these general tips can be agreed upon by all, and cover (among other things) three things that have direct impact on a wine’s condition: temperature, humidity and light. In the most ideal conditions, your fine wine will age more quickly when proper care is taken.
Constant Temperature – If you’re aging wine for over a year, the wine storage temperature should never go above 70°F. At this temperature, wine begins to oxidize, changing the aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature for a varied collection is probably around 54°F. Anything lower is acceptable, but will slow the aging process. Overall, be sure the atmosphere never fluctuates more than 3°F in a day and 5°F over the course of a year.
The Dark Room – Store wines away from all light, especially direct sunlight. UV rays can prematurely age the wine and give it an unpleasant smell. Regular household bulbs probably won’t damage the wine, but it can certainly fade the labels. If you can’t keep the bottle totally in the dark, wrap it in cloth or keep it in a box.
High Humidity – Believe it or not, 70 percent humidity is ideal for wine storage. This level of moist air keeps the cork from drying out and minimizes evaporation of the wine or damage to the taste. Anything over 70 percent can encourage mold growth and loosening of labels, so keep an eye out.
Side Effect – Storing wine on its side makes it easier to spot sediments that may develop over time, it’s space-efficient and for those planning on long-term storage, the wine against the cork protects it from drying out. Plus – it’s a nice way to display your labels.
Isolation – Wine “breathes,” so be sure to store it away from strong odors that can seep into the porous cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation should help any musty odors that form in a cool, dark room.
Timing Is Key – Red wines can be stored for anywhere between 2-20 years to mature, but most white wines should be consumed within two to three years of storage.
Wine Storage Options
There are a few ways you can store your wine, depending on what kind of collection you’d like to have.
An obvious choice, especially if you have the space for it. Get some racks, lay the wine down and close the door.
A spare closet in the house can be re-purposed into a wine closet with minimal changes; super convenient for an everyday wine lover.
They can be placed almost anywhere, and a constant temperature and humidity are easy to maintain.
The Starter Collection
Here is a good starter case of wine that can change over a couple of years, giving you a hint as to how it will age.
Mâcon from France
American Pinot Noir
Sauternes Dessert Wine