Does proper wine storage really matter? YES! Wine storage has the ability to preserve, even elevate the quality of a great bottle of wine. Unfortunately, it also has the ability to destroy it. It’s important to note that not all wines are created equal in their storage needs. Different selections require different storage strategies. An expensive bottle of high-end Burgundy or Bordeaux benefits from spending several years aging in the cellar, whereas an inexpensive bottle of wine meant for immediate consumption does not.
The how-to of proper wine storage: All wines should be kept away from direct sunlight, direct heat, and large swings in temperatures. Wines are best stored in the range of 50-58 degrees Fahrenheit. Present humidity (approximately 75%) is ideal, and it is important for any long-term aging – two years or more. It is also important to keep your higher-end wines away from strong vibrations — which can be tricky in places like New York, where many apartments are located over subway lines!
Wines that are sealed with corks are best stored horizontally. This is because a cork provides a controlled oxidative environment (one in which there is oxygen flow between inside and outside the bottle) for the wine. In order to control the flow of oxygen into the bottle, the cork should be kept moist, and in contact with the wine, at all times, so that the cork does not dry out and allow too much oxygen into the bottle. Wines sealed with screw caps, or “Stelvin closures,” don’t need to be stored horizontally. A screw cap’s seal is actually tighter than cork, and oxygen flow is not affected by the angle of bottle storage.
Do you really need a “Eurocave” or a “wine fridge”? That depends on what wines you own and like to drink. If you tend to consume bottles within a week or two after purchasing them, and if your wines are youthful and meant for everyday-drinking don’t worry about buying a wine fridge yet. You can store sparkling and white wines in the fridge – ideally in the crisper drawers, which have more humidity. (This works fine for red wines, too – though you’ll want to remove the red wines in time to let the chill dissipate before serving them). If you are starting to collect bottles meant for aging, then yes, a wine fridge is a good idea. A wine fridge is an investment – but so is your wine collection.