There are many elements that can negatively impact the flavor of your wine.
Whether you’re a serious collector or a casual drinker, you’ll want to protect your investment and try to reduce or eliminate the forces of these elements. Many wines (especially reds) will improve with age. This means that any wine enthusiast will need to store some wine for some length of time.
Here are some key factors to consider when planning a storage area for your wine…
*** AIR. Exposure to air can cause a wine to quickly turn to vinegar. To keep air out, wine bottles should be stored horizontally so the wine stays in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist and expanded, thereby preventing air from entering the bottle.
*** TEMPERATURE. The optimal storage temperature is 40 to 52 degrees for white wines, and 52 to 60 degrees for reds. The low to mid-50s is best if you’re storing whites and reds together. While overall temperature is important, the stability of the temperature is even more so. Frequent and rapid fluctuations can severely damage wine.
*** HUMIDITY. Proper humidity is important to keep the corks in good, resilient condition, thereby preventing them from shrinking. A relative humidity of 50 to 80 percent is acceptable, but 70 percent is recommended. This is why redwood is the preferred wood for wine cellar racking. Redwood resists the mold, mildew, rotting, splitting and warping that other types of wood would endure in this type of humidity.
*** LIGHT. Winemakers do not use clear bottles because light will prematurely age a bottle of wine. However, ultraviolet light will penetrate even dark-colored glass and may give a wine an unpleasant aroma. When lighting a wine cellar, incandescent light is preferable to fluorescent light as it emits less ultraviolet light.
*** ODORS. Your storage space should be free of any extraneous odors as they can enter through the cork and contaminate the wine. For this reason, it is recommended that wood racking be left untreated.