How to store wine is a basic-yet-critical issue for anyone attempting to build even a modest wine cellar. After all, there is little point in buying the big red wines that need eight years to mature if the wine goes bad in the bottle, let alone acquiring a truly fine, rare wine. Storing wine the right way is also useful for simple table wine, since improperly stored wine can lose quite a bit of their quality if left out in the wrong conditions for a week or two.
To store wine you will need:
- A cool dark place
- A shelf or wine rack
- Put the wine in a cool, dark place. Heat ages wine, while contact with UV rays degrades it. If you have ever wondered why red wine is always bottled in black and green glass bottles, the reason is because the colored glass protects the wine somewhat from UV rays. The ideal temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but anything below 68 degrees will do. These two factors – darkness and stable, cool temperatures – is the reason wine is usually stored in a cellar.
- Lay the bottle on its side. Even if you do not have a wine rack, lay the wine bottle on its side for long-term storage. Leaving the bottle standing on its bottom dries out the cork, ruining its air-tight seal.
- Keep the wine isolated. Wine "breathes" through the cork, so if you place your wine rack right next to your painting supplies in your basement, all sorts of unpleasant smells will permeate the cork and penetrate the bottle.
- Wrap up the top of the bottle. The wine you buy in the store comes with a plastic or foil wrapper covering the top, and this wrapper is there to protect the cork. If your wrapper is damaged or the wine comes from a friend who is lucky enough to own a small vineyard and makes his own wine, wrap up the top of the bottle tightly in a little tin foil, and secure the bottom of the foil to the bottle with a rubber band. That should be enough to protect the cork.
- Do not move the bottle until it is time to serve it. Once you have stored your wine properly, leave it alone. Until it is time to serve the wine, disturb the bottle as little as possible.