Properly storing wine is just as important as the time and dedication put into making your wine. The extreme you want to go to is strictly up to you.
Storing wine can be as simple as using cardboard boxes, a small wine rack, a rack that holds 20–30 bottles, or a complete wine cellar.
A wine cellar is a storage room for wine in bottles or barrels. They can be active(climate controlled for temperature and humidity) or passive (underground to reduce temperature swings).
An above ground wine cellar is often called a wine room (consisting of over 500 bottles of wine). One with less than 500 bottles is often referred to as a wine closet. Most people have a wine rack (which can hold from 3 bottles to 50 bottles of wine).
The main reason for storing wine is to keep your wine at a constant temperature. Wine is a natural, perishable food product. If it is exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature, it will spoil your wine.
When properly stored, most wines will improve in aroma, flavor and complexity as they mature.
Light, temperature and humidity have the most effect on wine.
Light, either direct sunlight or incandescent light, can break down your wine and create faults. That is why a bottle color is important when bottling your wine for an extended period of time. Most wine makers prefer a dark green or brown bottle.
Humidity can also dry out the cork. Even when wine is stored on its side, there is still a side of the cork that can dry out if the air is too dry. This will cause oxidation and your wine will spoil.
Temperature is another important factor when storing your wine. Try to keep you wine at a constant temperature. If wine is exposed to too high of a temperature (above 77 degrees F) for an extended period of time, it will cause the wine to spoil and taste “cooked”.
Some wines (usually reds) are more tolerant of higher temperatures. The more delicate wines (mostly whites) cannot take high temperatures.
Cold temperatures can also adversely affect your wine. If the temperatures are too cold,your wine can freeze and expand, causing the cork to be pushed out. This will allow more oxygen in and cause oxidation and again, spoil your wine.
With all that being said…..
Try to find a happy medium when storing wine.
A simple wine rack works and does not need to be large. If you have no wine rack, use a wine box with the cardboard separators in it to keep the bottles from hitting each other.
Never put them directly on a concrete floor.
Just be sure to store your wine lying on its side to allow the air bubble in the bottle to be clear of the cork. If the cork dries out, it will let bacteria and other anti-oxidants into the bottle ruining your wine.
Store the wine in a relatively dark, cool area that stays at a constant temperature. Keep away from heat and bursts of sunlight.
If you make a batch of wine, separate it.
Put a couple of bottles within reach, for immediate consumption.
Then put a few bottles further away for a couple of months from now.
And repeat the process until you have your batch of wine spread out over an extended period.
The taste difference will amaze you. As the time passes, your wine matures and the flavors and aromas grow and are appreciated so much more.
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Let's go see what temperature is right, which glass is right, and whether you should decant your wine?