The traditional solution for wine storage is a wine cellar or cave. If you have that, then you’re happily set to store your beloved wine under the right conditions. (Just go ahead and give your dog an extra walk instead of reading this.) Most of us aren’t so lucky. Some wine lovers opt for a wine refrigerator, but they’re not always the best solution for even amateur collectors. The experts at Wine Spectator warn that once you start storing wine to enjoy later, it’s difficult to stop. You’ll likely need more space than you think. Climate-controlled self storage could be the best option for you.

Wine is almost as complicated as women, but not quite. Storing wine can be like maintaining a good relationship. When stored under the proper conditions, wine will be more flavorful, and more enjoyable. If I stored my wine in an unheated garage, that would be a snafu akin to taking my wife to McDonald’s for her birthday. There’s a good chance of ruin!  If you love your wine, offer it at least Macaroni Grill flair, not fast-food ambience. After all, you can’t give your wine roses or a pretty bracelet while pleading for forgiveness.

Wine is best stored in a still and dark environment, not the frequently used garage my wife just reminded me to organize, or the busy kitchen pantry overflowing with the kids’ favorites, Cheerios and pudding snack packs. Darkness is important since too much ultraviolet light from the sun, or even from fluorescent bulbs, can affect the quality of wine. Also, too much shaking about may cause a gritty wine from disturbed sediment. I’ve ended up with sediment in my glass before, and it was distracting to say the least.

Not only are kitchen pantries a bad idea, but basements can also be a poor choice for wine storage. If conditions are damp, wine labels may be damaged, and wine that’s not sealed properly may even become moldy. Likewise, on top of the refrigerator is a terrible place for storing wine. Up there, your wine is exposed to subtle vibrations, light and perhaps temperature fluctuations. That brings us to consistency. Just as with raising well-behaved kids who grow up to be brain surgeons, consistency is important for wine to develop to its fullest potential.

The proper consistent temperature for wine is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit can make wine age too quickly. Plus, with extreme heat, you may end up with a cooked wine boosting a flat aroma. I always prefer to serve guests a nice cooked dinner, not a cooked wine! Overly chilly temperatures and fluctuating temperatures can result in wine seepage, or even the cork pushing out completely. That’s a mess and wasteful, not to mention hurtful to the wallet.

Climate-controlled storage is ideal for maintaining consistent temperatures, but you’ll also want to consider how your wine will rest inside that storage unit. If the bottle is stored upright for too long, the cork may dry out, but this isn’t a concern with plastic corks or screw caps. If you allow a cork to dry out, the cork will shrink and let air inside the bottle. The result is oxidized wine, which won’t make for a pleasant sipping experience. Choose in a wine rack that may be used for horizontal storage. Storing your wine horizontally will keep the cork moist, and will keep sediment away from the neck of the bottle. Downwardly tilted storage can result in sediment resting too close to the neck of the bottle, ready to be poured into your glass.

Your wine is now resting comfortably on its side in a climate-controlled storage unit, now what? Consider humidity, but just a bit. My wife absolutely hates what humid weather does to her hair, but humidity isn’t quite as big a deal for wine as maintaining a good consistent temperature. Adding a pan of water inside your storage unit may help maintain conditions within the ideal humidity range, which is between 50 and 80 percent.

Yes, wine is complicated like relationships, but the rewards are sweet, so check back for more wine tips.

How do you store your wine?

Tim Eyre

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