WINE 101 > STORING WINE
Like the Jets and the Sharks, "Stay cool, man. Real cool."
What Kind of Wine Rack is Best?
One with room for a few more bottles, the adventure goes on. You see below that we address wine storage for two purposes. For everyday storage most anything will do, even the boxes in which the wines came. Lay them on their side. They are even stackable up to a layer but always empty the top row first.
In choosing nicer racks or racks for long term storage, common sense is critical. I had a friend who built an elaborate rack system only to discover he couldn't get it through the door into his storage space. The most common and frustrating mistake is the size of the cubical. Today's wines are in ever varying bottle shapes. The usual cube size is for a case, 12 bottles, of wine but whatever number of bottles per cube you choose use Champagne bottles as a standard. Everything I've seen so far will then fit into the cubes formatted around Champagne bottles.
Storing Everyday Wines
If you want to keep a few bottles or a few cases on hand for convenience, flexibility and spontaneity you’re fine with a dark space away from vibration and frequent or rapid temperature change. The designers who put wine racks above the refrigerator or under the counter next to the dishwasher should be shot.
What Temperature Should a Wine Cellar be?
If you’re laying down wines for extended aging more care is required. Now managing the temperature becomes critical. 55 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for long term aging but don’t worry too much about this. Wines will flourish at a range of temperature if you eliminate rapid and frequent fluctuations. I like to keep my cellar a bit warmer, 59 degrees. Wines stored for a long period of time much below 55 degrees will be maturing properly but do not show their best directly from the cellar so require 2 to 3 days at room temperature to sort of unwrap before you bring them to proper serving temperature. This observation is from long experience, I don’t know the science behind it.
What Humidity Should a Wine Cellar be?
In modern homes cooler spots also tend to enjoy a better level of humidity. This reduces the drying of corks but don't get carried away. If the humidity is too high the labels may begin to deteriorate. Some older houses have limestone cellars which combined with high humidity become especially corrosive.
What about Storing Open Bottles of Wine?
Port, Sherry and Maderia aside wines should be consumed with some dispatch once opened. Pushing the cork back into it and refrigeration will get you a day or two, maybe. There are a few products that extend the life of an opened bottle of wine. In our experience, the best of these is Private Preserve which is available on this site. This is an inert gas that is sprayed into the partially empty bottle replacing the oxygen which is the cause of oxidation. Private Preserve can add several days to the wines drinkability.
White wines are of little problem but remove partial reds from the fridge when you get home so they can come slowly to serving temperature. If you forget, Bacchus forgive me, nuke it 15 seconds a glass.