Few of us are fortunate to have a suitable cellar for storing wine, so what are the alternatives.
Ideal conditions for storing wine
Temperature is important, but not quite as critical as some suggest. Extremes must be avoided, ideally the temperature should not fluctuate too much as the expansion and contraction can cause the cork to allow air in. The ideal temperature is 13°C or 55°F. It should not fall below 7°C or 45°F or rise above 18°C or 65°F.
Humidity should be around 70%, low humidities which is rare in the UK, can cause corks to shrink and allow air in.
Wine needs to be kept dark, clear bottles are particularly susceptible.
Bottles sealed with corks should be laid flat to keep the cork moist. Screw tops are OK upright.
An effective but not cheap alternative to a cellar for storing wine is a purpose built wine cabinet. Prices vary widely, from around £400 up to several thousand pounds for large cabinets with high specifications. Domestic refrigerators can be too cold and low humidity. Click for John Lewis buying guide.
Another alternative, again not cheap is a wine spiral, creating a cellar with access through the floor. If you are refurbishing or building its an option to consider.
For the majority of us, we will need to manage using a spare room, cupboard or outbuilding that is not too cold in Winter. If light is an issue wrap the bottles. Keep clear of drafts and use lagging to maintain temperatures when needed. An open container with water will help to maintain humidity levels. Don’t stock up, only buy enough wine to keep you going.
If you are buying wine in bulk or for investment, you can have your wine professionally stored. Expect to pay around £12 per case per year. Specialist wine merchants often offer storage for their customers.