While wine may be described using terms that imply ruggedness, such as "full-bodied," "heavy," or "earthy" the truth is that all wine, no matter what variety, is a delicate substance whose flavor and longevity are easily and greatly altered by external environmental factors surrounding even the densest bottle. When deciding where and how to store your wine bottles, you will want to take into consideration the following external and environmental factors:
For reasons that are purely practical, wine must be stored someplace where you can easily reach it. Imagine cramming your wine in a tight space, say between the refrigerator and the wall. At the time, you may have thought this idea was downright genius. After all, you have a small kitchen practically bursting with appliances, dishes, and snacks, so why not get the wine out of sight? Besides, nothing else in your kitchen was small and narrow enough to cram into this space. While storing your wine in tight, hard to reach places, may seem like space-saving brilliancy at the time, you will be cursing as you try to wiggle and free your most recent bottle out of its holding place.
Ultraviolet light can destroy your wine! Do not worry; while this warning may seem dire your wine bottle is usually made of colored glass which helps protect the wine from the damaging effects of light. Dark places, such as those created by wine coolers, wine cabinets, and wine cellars are the best places to store wine if you are trying to protect your selection from harmful rays.
- Vibration and Noise
Okay, here is where storing your wine on top of your refrigerator turns out to be a not so good idea. Vibration and noise increase chemical reactions within the wine which speeds up the wines aging process to harmfully fast levels.
Hopefully this will not be too big of a problem, as I doubt your kitchen is very smelly. Minus the occasional indoor fish-fry (It sounded like a great idea at the time), most likely your sealed, bottled and corked wine will not be too affected by odors in your household. However, odors can have a detrimental effect on bottles that have been opened and saved to drink the next night. Wine can absorb some of the characteristics of the items around it when left in tight and closed spaces with little ventilation. So if you put your wine in your refrigerator next to the half used onion, your wine may take on some, shall we say, “interesting” flavor characteristics.
As mentioned above, storing your wine in a well ventilated area is essential for your wine's aging and preservation process. You want your wine to be surrounded by air that is fresh, cool, and not too damp. You will find great ventilation in wine cooler refrigerators and perfect air quality and humidity if you invest in a wine cabinet or wine cellar.
Humidity is one of the most influential environmental factors affecting your bottles of wine. It is important when storing wine bottles for an extended period of time to ensure they are located in a relatively humid space (between 70% and 80% humidity is ideal). The reason for this is that humidity keeps your wine's corks from drying out. With wine racks that store wine on its side, the wine will be in constant contact with the cork, and if the cork is nice and moist because it is in an environment with proper humidity, then the cork will maintain its shape and seal which will enhance wine preservation. Proper humidity is essential for those who are not just storing but aging wine. In such cases, wine cabinets and wine cellars are the preferred method of wine storage. More on this in a bit...
Temperature is perhaps the most important of all external factors when it comes to storing and aging wine. Not only does temperature effect long-term preservation, but it can be applied to the bottle of wine you bought and are planning to drink the very same day. Ever left a bottle of wine in a hot car? Well from personal experience, I advise against it. My perfect little Petite Syrah was ruined the other day when I happened to forget about it in my car which sat in continuous and direct sunlight. In addition, temperature fluctuations in your kitchen from the stove can be detrimental to your wine if this is where you store it. Ideal wine storing temperatures run between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Wine cooler refrigerators are optimal storage facilities for achieving temperature perfection!
Fight The Forces of Nature!
After discovering the effects that space, light, vibration, noise, odor, ventilation, humidity and temperature have on your wine, you may feel rather worried about your current collection and its current resting place. After all, with so many forces bent on hurting your wine, how do you protect it? Well, now that your know all about the external elements out to get your wine, it is time to explore the different forms of wine storage and how each one of them works to protect your wine and aid your wine along the aging process. To start, explore the links below!
How to Buy: A Wine Refrigerator
How to Buy: A Wine Cellar
To Buy: A Wine Cellar or Wine Refrigerator