How long you plan to store your wine will have an effect on which method of wine storage you use. Short term wine storage is usually defined by wine consumption within 6 months of purchasing. Wine bottles placed in short term storage are wines that you wish to drink soon after purchasing or bottles you have removed from longer term storage for easy accessibility. Even though you are not planning on long term storing or aging with these wines, it is still important to store your wine in conditions which resemble those necessary for long term storage so as to guarantee the quality of your wine.
Ideal conditions will include storage within an environment where the temperature fluctuates as little as possible, and, ideally, the temperature hovers somewhere between 50°-59° Fahrenheit. While you are not necessarily aging these short term wines, stable temperature is important to protect wine from premature aging caused by extreme temperature fluctuations. In addition, you will want this environment to be vibration-free and odorless. Furthermore, wine should always be stored on its side to ensure the cork is in constant contact with the wine and thus properly sealed.
If you are not quite ready to purchase a wine refrigerator, look for a rarely used place in your home that is both cool and dark such as a closet or a basement. If kept in a box or on racks on their sides, wine in the short term will be safe. However, before serving you will have to bring the wine to proper serving temperature (click here to view the Learn About: Wine Serving Temperatures article).
Long term wine storage consists of wine you wish to store longer than 6 months. Some wine ends up in longer term storage due to sheer quantity. Say you bought several cases of wine from a favorite winery during your last tour of Sonoma wine country. While you are not necessarily aging these bottles, you know that they will not all be consumed in 6 months. To store these wines you will want to place them in an area where their true flavor complexity will remain as delicious a year from now as it was when you first brought it home. Or maybe your long term storage plans do include aging for years or even decades. If this is the case you will want to pay special attention to the conditions in which these bottles are housed.
Wine refrigerators are great options for people on a budget or people who have differing spatial needs. Just as wine refrigerators are ideal for short term wine storage, they complement longer term storage well as they offer the correct and stable temperature necessary for long term storage with no vibrations, and they are outfitted with either solid doors or glass doors which have ultraviolet protection built-in. The only downside of wine refrigerators is their bottle capacity may not be large enough for some collectors, and many of the refrigerators are not equipped with the ideal humidity for long term storing and aging.
Wine cellars on the other hand, offer the absolute perfect environment for long term wine storage and for aging wine for decades. With protective wood or glass, light is never a problem. Temperature is always kept to the ideal 50°-55°, and, perhaps most importantly, wine cellars will ensure the humidity within the unit is just right. Furthermore, they offer large wine bottle capacity and ample opportunity to expand your collection.