By Bob Hosmon
Unless you’re a serious wine collector who purchases numerous expensive bottles and waits years for them to age, you don’t need to keep your wines in a refrigerated professional-grade storage unit.
Keep in mind that only a small percentage of wines benefit from years of bottle aging. So if you want to keep a few bottles (some average, some really good, some special) around the house for convenience, knowing those wines will be consumed within two or three years, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to store your wines at home. You just need to know where to locate that storage.
Temperature in the storage area should never be too hot or too cold nor should it fluctuate wildly from day to night or season to season. That means, if you have wine in a built-in rack in your kitchen or are storing wine in your laundry room, you’re making a big mistake. And don’t even think about storing wine in the refrigerator, unless you’re chilling a white that will be opened within a few days. Left longer, the cork can dry out and damage the wine in the bottle.
The ideal temperature for long-time storage of red and white wines is around 55 degrees, but that can only be achieved with a professional wine cooler. If you are keeping wines that will be opened within a few years, you can store them in a space where the temperature is in the mid-70s (just think about the temperature in the last wine shop you visited).
Sunlight is also an enemy of wine because ultraviolet rays accelerate aging – but in a bad way. That’s why red wines come in colored glass bottles; the bottles provide a sun block for the wine. Unlike sunlight, household light bulbs do not pose a problem.
So where can you store wine in your home? You could choose the floor of a closet that doesn’t get a lot of use. But my favorite home wine storage site is under a bed, preferably in a guest room that doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Stored on their sides, the wines are subject to a relatively constant temperature (preferably in the mid-70s), and it’s dark under that bed, even when the lights are on.
After all that being said, if you still want to purchase a climatized storage unit for your wines, choose one that maintains a constant temperature. As an alternative, you could turn a small closet with an exterior wall into an above-ground wine cellar by installing shelving, insulation and an in-the wall-air conditioning unit.