Storage Essentials - Basic guidelines for keeping your wine at its best
By Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator magazine
WINE SPECTATOR, Aug. 29, 2006 (www.winespectator.com) - Once you have purchased wine, whether it's a few bottles or several cases, the issue of storage must be addressed. Since most wine is consumed within 24 to 48 hours of purchase, many wine lovers find that a small rack away from a direct heat source is an ideal solution. But if you plan to collect fine wines that benefit from additional bottle maturation, proper storage is essential.
Before choosing a space, be sure it will be large enough to accommodate future purchases. If you live in a small apartment, vacant space--under a stairway, in a closet--may be sufficient. But more avid collectors, or those with room to spare, may want to allow for hundreds of wines stored as either individually racked bottles or full cases.
One of wine's greatest enemies is extreme heat. Temperatures greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit will age a wine more quickly, and can also "cook" a wine until the fruit character becomes blunted, resulting in flat aromas and flavors. Equally important is the rate at which temperature changes. Rapid temperature fluctuations may cause pressure changes within a bottle, forcing the cork upward, causing leaks that permit air to enter the bottle.
Air is another of wine's enemies. Any prolonged exposure will lead to oxidation, which produces a brownish color and Sherry-like flavors.
Therefore, it is important to have a cool space with constant temperature for long-term storage. If your storage area is naturally cool (for example, a below-ground cellar), that's fine; if not, it may be necessary to invest in a cooling unit.