Proper wine storage is first and foremost about protecting flavor. In general, storage is broken down into short-term and long-term solutions. Once you know how to store wine properly, then you can venture into the process of aging wine, which is altogether different. In the past, a wine cellar was necessary to control temperature, humidity, light exposure, and vibration. By carefully managing each of these parameters, wine connoisseurs could ensure the quality of their wines. Today, a full wine cellar is no longer necessary. There are more sophisticated mechanisms for storing and aging wine that make it easier for amateurs and professionals alike to store a little or a lot of wine.
Believe it or not, your basement may be a great place to store wine. That said, you can’t take the conditions in your basement for granted. You need to measure temperature and humidity carefully and, if you are going to be storing wine for long periods of time or aging wine, you need to protect your investment from UV light and vibration.
If you decide to use your basement as a storage location, then you may need to install an automatic humidity control system. You’ll also want to ensure that your heating system isn’t causing wild temperature fluctuations. Finally, purchase high-quality racks (or build them yourself) to help ensure against UV damage and vibration.
Wine refrigerators are good for short-term wine storage, but often aren’t suited to long-term storage. The biggest problem with wine refrigerators is that they don’t maintain particularly consistent temperatures. Wine cellars are dug deep into the ground because the temperature always remains at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most refrigerators can maintain temperatures within +/- 5 degrees, which means the wine could be as cool as 50 F or as warm as 60 F. Neither temperature is suitable for long-term storage.
The other problem with wine coolers is that they don’t do much for humidity. They tend to stay at a relative humidity of around 40%, which is far below the optimal 70% humidity for long-term storage. Premium models offer humidity reservoirs, which you fill with water, but the results are often inconsistent.
If you purchase a wine refrigerator for long-term storage, look for one that maintains consistent temperature and humidity. Additionally, look for units that do not have glass doors, as glass allows ultraviolet (UV) light to damage the wine. You may also want to consider units with additional features, such as the 3-Liter Wine Dispenser that makes serving easier. To compare apples to apples, calculate the prices of refrigerators on a per-bottle basis.
Wine Storage Cabinet
Wine storage cabinets are basically high-end versions of the refrigerators discussed above. They are designed for long-term storage and for aging wine. They are expensive and, because they keep interior conditions so tightly regulated, they tend to have short life spans. Even the best storage cabinets will only last about ten years at most. They will, however, ensure that your wine is perfectly maintained.
Joni Whitman is a retiree who appreciates a great bottle of wine. An avid blogger and home cook, she loves to write about what works for her to post on the web. You can read her interesting articles on many cooking, DIY, home and entertaining blogs and websites today.