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How To Store Your Wine
So, you love wine, you've bought a few of your favorite bottles and you store them in a wine rack on your counter or on top of your refrigerator. Then one day your friend brings you a bottle and you get another bottle for a gift and you begin to run out of room on your counter. Then you begin thinking...where is the best place to store my wine. Most wine lovers have seen the day that requires graduating from a couple bottles in a rack to coming up with some sort of system to sort, store, and keep wine accessible. The following are some tips for keeping your wine healthy and tasting good long-term.
Wine is best stored under cool, dark, airy conditions, free from vibration, odors and dampness. A cellar need not be under the house. The single most important factor is temperature stability. Wines stored where the temperature varies gradually with the seasons are better off than wines stored in a room which is heated during the day and then allowed to cool to winter temperatures at night.
The ideal cellar temperature is 12-15oC(53-59F) with a relative humidity of 65-75%. It is worthwhile using a thermometer to monitor summer temperatures. It may be a cause for concern if the cellar temperature goes much over 18oC(64F), as warm conditions will accelerate the development of your wines, possibly reducing the pleasure to be had from them.
Store wine on its side, ideally with the neck sloping slightly upwards so that the cork remains wet, the bubble of air is in the shoulder and any sediment will collect at the bottom of the bottle. This will make the wine easier to decant. Place the bottle with the label facing up or use written neck tags so you do not disturb a wine to identify it. Align the bottles so that the corks are visible - this will allow easy inspection for problems such as leakage.
Depending on the size of your cellar and your budget, your wines can be stored in either racks or boxes. There are various racking and storage systems available ranging from metal individual bottle storage racks through to custom-built wooden systems. Cardboard cartons in which wines are packed provide efficient insulation and also protect the wine from light. Another alternative, albeit an expensive one, is specially designed styrene boxes, which provide excellent insulation and double as wine racks.
Air conditioning and refrigeration may effectively reduce temperatures but will also reduce humidity causing cork shrinkage. Buckets filled with water and regularly topped up will usually solve this problem. Alternatively, several companies now offer cellaring cabinets of varying sizes, that are, effectively, modified refrigerators with humidity control and these same companies can also supply humidity control units for rooms.
It is important to note that your wines will mature more quickly if your cellaring conditions are not ideal. If you are like me, you have more everyday style wine in your cellar than anything. These wines are better to drink quickly rather than store for years and years. However, proper storage conditions will keep your wine from spoiling too quick and you may be surprised with the excellent aging results you achieve with some higher end or more complex styles such as Bordeaux or Pinot Noir/Burgundy. Try asking your local wine merchant to suggest some wines for you that age well and have fun starting a collection of age worthy wine to go with your everyday wine.
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