When buying wine for collecting or for later drinking it is important to understand that wine has similar properties to fresh produce and unless appropriate steps are taken for preservation both produce and wine will spoil over time. Storing wine at home requires consideration due to the length of time many people may wish to keep their bottles prior to opening them.
Many wines may actually improve with age but once the bottles are open they will begin to oxidize.
Typically wine is stored in glass bottles with a natural cork seal to maintain freshness. As long as the integrity of the bottle and the cork are maintained the wine will be preserved. However, all wine will begin to spoil if the storage method is not appropriate.
Heat, light, humidity and temperature variations can all have a negative impact on wines and so can vibration in the storage area or cellar.
Wine cellars are designed to protect the bottled wine from direct sunlight as well as to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level. In some instances storing wine the right way is more important to a wine lover than the comfort of their guests and restaurants with an extensive wine list may spend more money on wine storage than is spent on customer amenities.
Anyone thinking about building a wine cellar in a basement should take into account any windows that will allow light to penetrate the cellar. All windows must be covered to prevent light from entering. Additionally, sunlight streaming in through windows can cause unwanted temperature fluctuations.
The type of floor in the wine cellar can also play a role in the preservation effort as some older buildings with wood or dirt floors make it difficult to control humidity levels. A gravel floor can sometimes be added to a natural cellar. Water can be poured onto the gravel to increase the humidity.
If building a wine cellar isn’t possible a refrigerated wine cooler can be installed in a room in your home that can stand independently and while some may have a glass front allowing the owner to verify the supply, others will have a solid front to keep out the light. If you choose a glass fronted wine cooler then ensure that the glass is heavily tinted.
Storing bottles of wine in an uninsulated closet does not provide an ideal method of storing wine, especially if the wine is to be kept for several years.
Wine purchased for immediate drinking will not require any special storage steps although it will benefit from resting after bringing it home from the liquor outlet. A bottle of wine that has travelled any distance in a car will be suffering bottle shock!