‘Your Wine Cellar’ might be an underground cellar filled with expensive rarities, or a number of favourite bottles stacked in the cupboard of the spare bedroom or a few bottles kept on a rack in the kitchen. In either case, there are certain requirements for maintaining wine in good condition that you should know. In modern, well insulated & heated homes, some of these conditions are hard to find, though this is only really a problem if you have wines you intend to keep for the medium to long term - say 3 to 10 years or more.
The wines shown in the below photo (bottom left) are lying in a specifically designed wine cellar at a cool 13°-15°Celsius, having no wild fluctuations in temperature, are dark and are free from vibrations; in addition, it has controlled humidity. Humidity is a critical, yet often overlooked feature in wine cellar design. The relative humidity should be between 50% - 70%, with 60% the ideal. Without ideal humidity, wine quality may be affected. As when the humidity is higher than 70%, it is likely to cause unwanted mold to form on the bottles, labels and cork. When the humidity is below 50%, corks will begin to dry out resulting in loss of wine in the bottles and eventual degradation. These are the ideal conditions for cellaring wines long term; modern homes can be rather unfriendly places in which to age, cellar wine - long term (i.e. more than 2 years).
Wine bottles with corks should be placed horizontally, this is vital for all wines with a cork closure that are being stored for more than 6 months. This means that the cork is kept in contact with the wine, preventing it from drying out. If they are stored upright (which you can and should do with screw-caps - as laying them down for too long, there will eventually leak), the cork will eventually shrink, allowing air to enter and spoil the wine.
A constant temperature *(ideally only the slightest fluctuation in a 24 hour period, no more than 2°celsius) is far more important than absolute coolness. Ideally, an unheated cupboard where the central heating will not be constantly raising and lowering the temperature. Ideally keep the temperature down below 17°C at home. Though preferably between 13°C - 15°C as at these temperatures the wine is 'not too cold' to still mature as intended and 'not too warm' to age too fast.
Garages and tin sheds are not a good idea, as they freeze in winter and over-heat in summer. Dark conditions will avoid the wine's colour being spoiled, again a cupboard might be a good choice, but in any event try to ensure the wine is not in direct sunlight. Storing, keeping the wine in the box it came in is always a good idea if you have more simple storage conditions. Freedom from vibration is also important, as constant agitation does not give the wine time to mature slowly. Do not position your wine rack next to the washing machine or spin-dryer or next to the oven or near the kitchen window in direct sunlight - as direct sunlight will damage a wine within hours.
Strong smells can taint wine over long periods of storage - another reason why the kitchen or garage/ toolshed are not the ideal location. Finally - keep a journal of all your wines, so you know what you have and when best to enjoy and share them. Do all that you can to keep your wine-log up-to-date, as the last thing you want is to find a favourite wine in years to come past its best. Not only would it be a loss of money, but missing an opportunity to share a special wine, occasion with good food and friends.


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