Wine Storage Conditions

Very few of us have a big, dark, cool cellar under our house where we can lay down wines to mature for years, but there are some basic requirements for maintaining wine in good condition. You should consider the following conditions:

Temperature

Any wine you choose to store should ideally be kept in the range of 9-15°C (48-58°F). If a wine is stored in a warm environment, it matures too quickly; in too cool an environment it will mature too slowly. However, maintaining a constant temperature is far more important than absolute coolness. This means that an unheated under-stairs cupboard would be quite adequate for mid-term storage. Garages and sheds are not good for storage, as they freeze in winter and over-heat in summer.

Light

Dark conditions will prevent the wine's fine colour being spoiled, so again, an under-stairs cupboard might be a possible choice. Wherever you decide to store your wine, make sure that it is never in direct sunlight.

Humidity

If your wine is kept for a long time in too dry a place the cork can dry out, which might prematurely age the wine. A humidity level of around 80% is ideal.

Vibration

Some wine experts advise us that vibrations can adversely affect wine. Constant agitation won't allow the wine time to rest and mature slowly, so do make sure that you don't position your wine rack next to the washing machine or spin-dryer!

Bottle Position

Bottles should be stored horizontally, to ensure that the cork is kept in contact with the liquid, keeping it damp and swollen. If the bottles are left upright, the cork will eventually shrink, allowing air to enter and spoil the wine.

It may be difficult to find a storage space that meets all these conditions, especially in a modern, centrally heated and well insulated house. However, this is only really a problem if you have wines you intend to keep for the mid to long term - say 3 to 10 years or more.

For perfect storage conditions you could buy a temperature- and humidity-controlled cabinet or even have a cellar installed under your house, but both options are expensive. Alternatively, you could pay for your wine merchant to store the wines. If you choose this option, make sure that you receive a stock certificate and that your cases are clearly identified and stored separately from the merchant's own stock.