If you only buy wine for your own pleasure or for a particular event, and take care to consume your bottles within a reasonable time frame, don’t worry, almost all bottles will survive in a cupboard for around 12 months -the wine is likely to deteriorate if left longer.
Wine can be bought in large quantities simply to avoid having to buy it over and over again, or to start your own collection of wines that improve with time. If you buy wine wisely, and store it with care, you are granted two boons: a sound investment and pleasure when you drink it. No complicate technique needed, just common sense and some knowledge.
Those who collect wine, see wine as an investment, or entertain frequently, have to think about how to store their precious bottles. Whichever the reason, they will need enough storage space and adequate conditions.
Why to store
Though most wines on the selves today were intended to be enjoyed young and, true enough, it is better to drink a wine too young than too old. Nevertheless, age-worthy wines are created now by the best producers everywhere, not only in the Old Europe, so the concept of aging a bottle of wine does not need to sound alien to half the civilized world.
As wine rests in the bottle, chemical reactions take place and they change the simple fruity flavors to more complex ones.
- In reds, the color becomes lighter, the tannins softer, and the wine takes on aromas such as cedar, leather, or mushrooms.
- Whites deepen in color, becoming less sweet and more intense. Typical aromas of a mature white wine include nuts, wax, and even diesel.
- The effect of oak barrels –hints of vanilla, coconut and spice- diminishes in all wines as they mature.
Wines have a more or less longer life depending on their type, origin and careful elaboration. Along that life, which can be 25 years and more, the wine matures -therefore improves- until it reaches its peak point, where it will keep for a few years to begin a slow decline afterwards.
The advantage of storing wine is to buy young wines with potential at very reasonable prices and, if one can keep from drinking them, end up a few years later with a very worthy collection of mature wines.
The first few years are hard and pretty disappointing, as it is not really possible to profit from your effort. Once they have gone by, a well planed wine cellar will provide a continuous stream of great wines; you will be able to enjoy your first wines as your last acquisitions mature.
What to store
A few wines will benefit from a longer storage in a dark, cool place. Full bodied reds and fortified wines can improve with aging. Most white wines do not improve much with aging, only the sweet ones.
Unless you are a wine expert, it is difficult to know which wine will improve with aging. Ask for advice, you will save time, money and effort. It is not easy to guess the character the wine will take with the years, and there is no much point in trying many different vintages, to work out if it will be worth aging them, just on the hope that you will strike gold.
Where to store
Store bottles in a cool, dark place; ideally, a room in the basement, a wine cellar. But you can start storing wine without a cellar; all you need is a cool area with a fairly constant temperature: not too cold, not too hot, and no sudden variations. Wine fare better in the dark, a closet or the area under the stairs can be ideal. If there is no place to keep your bottles, consider a specially build closet or cupboard, a wine cave, some of them even resemble pieces of furniture; they are wine credenzas.
Don’t keep the bottles in the kitchen, where the temperature is bond to change considerably, or close to a heat source, for instance, close to a hot water pipe.
How to store
Lay bottles on their sides; when the corks keep always moist no air enters the bottle. Air can oxidize and deteriorate the wine. There is a wide variety of racking systems. You can choose between elaborate wooden racks to simple metal or plastic units, stacking one on top of the other until the wall is covered in wine bottles.
Wine bottles can also be kept in their boxes, as long as the bottles are lying down and the boxes are not cardboard ones.