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Most wine purchased in this country is consumed within hours. Bottles are picked up on the way home or to a friend or family member’s house to be opened and enjoyed upon arrival. But there’s always interest, especially from wine lovers, in having bottles on hand for special occasions or convenience’s sake.
If you don’t have a climate-controlled wine cellar or wine fridge and are looking for a safe place to store wine at home for more than a few days, finding a cool, dark and dry place is essential. That rules out the kitchen, where your collection can be subject to bright light, fluctuating temperatures and, if stored on top of the refrigerator, vibration which aren’t beneficial to your wine tasting its best.
My biggest concern is avoiding direct sunlight or artificial light, which will have an adverse effect on the flavour of your wine. When living in apartments, I stored my wine – bottles with corks placed upside down to keep them moist – in cardboard cases at the back of my closet. When the collection grew, I acquired wine racks that forced me to reduce how many shoes I had.
Another element to consider is temperature. Warmer temperatures make wine’s flavours develop more quickly, dialling down the fruit aromas and flavours and increasing more earthy and complex notes.
A safe range for proper storage hovers between 7 and 19 C (45 and 65 F), but I’d be more troubled about rapid fluctuations in temperature in the space than if the environment is consistently a bit warmer than ideal. Beware the furnace room, but maybe there’s a crawl space or cooler section in the basement that could house your cache?
For long-term storage of fine wines, consideration of humidity is important to preserve its integrity, and if that’s your desire, you’re best to consider professional storage options by constructing a purpose-built wine room, investing in a calibrated wine fridge or finding a reliable off-site facility. If you’re opening your carefully sourced and stored bottles within a few years, it’s not as much of a concern.
Of course, when you’re considering which bottles are worth tucking away, that depends on your personal preference. I’d recommend you taste anything before you consider buying multiples to age to guarantee you like it. I’d also caution that aging wine isn’t an endurance sport. Don’t let that special bottle languish as you wait for the perfect occasion to enjoy it. Opening it is sure to create an occasion and will make room for a new addition to your cellar. Rest assured, there’s always going to be more wine to buy.