There is a reason that wine has been stored in wine caves and underground cellars for hundreds of years - the ideal storage conditions can be consistently met: cool, dark, humid and still surroundings. While, storing wine is not rocket science, there are a few key points to keep in mind that will help ensure your wine has the very best chance for long-term survival and optimal aging.
Keep It Cool
Optimal wine storage is right around 55 F, excessive heat will wreak havoc on a bottle of wine. You also want to shoot for consistent temperatures, as dramatic temperature fluctuations will also negatively impact a stored bottle of wine. Humidity is another factor to keep in mind when storing wine. A higher humidity level helps to keep corks from shrinking and allowing oxygen in, resulting in the dreaded oxidation of the wine. Ideal humidity is between 65 to 75%.
Keep It Dark
Most colored glass bottles of wine have UV filters incorporated into the bottle glass, but this does not necessarily offer full UV protection. If a wine is in direct light consistently, it will affect the flavor of the wine significantly, a result of premature aging. Typically, white wines are the most sensitive to light degradation, but reds will also lose if they are subjected to excessive light.
Keep It Still
For whatever reason, the top of the refrigerator seems to be one of those places that people naturally tend to keep their wine. Maybe, it's the convenience of it, maybe it's that the cute wrought iron wine racks fit well there - but either way this is one of the worst places to keep wine. First there's the heat and the direct light, then there's the risk of losing bottles out of the rack every time the frig is opened and closed, but there's also the vibration from the refrigerator itself. The constant vibration of the refrigerator or other major appliances in close proximity just agitates the wine and can keep the sediment from settling in a red wine. Constant or consistent vibration will wreck a wine.
Keep It Sideways
By intentionally storing a wine on its side, you will help keep the cork in constant contact with the wine. This will keep the cork moist, which should keep the cork from shrinking and allowing the enemy of wine, oxygen, to seep into the bottle. When oxygen comes into contact with wine the result is not good - the wine starts to oxidize (think brown apple) and the aromas, flavors and color all begin to spoil.
Wine Coolers: Wine Storage Units
While most of us don't have on-site rock wall, wine caves or underground cellar accommodations for our favorite wines, there are plenty of options to mimic these primitive, but ideal conditions. Since, light and heat destroy wine in very little time, make sure to protect your bottles from both by finding a cool, dark spot to safeguard your wine. Basements are ideal storage facilities - since they typically meet the cool and dark requirements. If a basement is not an option, then just keep the bottles in a cool closet. Or if you want to be more intentional with these prime storing conditions then consider one of the many wine refrigerator or wine storage cabinets on the market. These climate controlled cabinets come in a variety of sizes and price points, offering as few as 16 bottles a safe haven to over 600 bottles a snug spot to sleep.
Storing wine is a snap, just remember to keep it cool, dark, still and sideways and you'll find that you can successfully store wine for both the short and long term with confidence.