Having bought your wine you now need to consider how you are going to keep it until it is needed. Most wine sold today is ready to drink and therefore the need to 'lay down' wine is much less common than it once was. Having said this a lot of our wines will last for a while and some will continue to improve for some time so careful storage or cellarage is essential even if it just to maintain your investment.
You would be surprised where people decide to place wine racks, it is true that few of us thee days are fortunate enough to have cellars, commercial wine fridges are available. Some very nice ones come with two different chill control areas so that you can put your whites in one part and the reds in another. If you have one of these think carefully if you are storing the wine at a temperature for drinking or keeping! So where do you put your wine rack to keep your wine at its best, well I have seen some terrible sins. A wine rack next to oven, lots of variation in heat! I saw one on the top of a freezer, all that vibration and enormous about of heat. Garages and sheds can be fatal for wine, freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer.
So where should we be keeping our wine? Well wine likes the following:-
1 - For long term storage a constant temperature of between 10 and 15℃ is ideal. Definitely avoid extremes of temperature as too hot or too cold will affect the wine and may become a serious fault. So avoid the kitchen and especially near any electrical appliance which by its nature will generate a considerable amount of heat. Avoid extended periods in the domestic fridge, these are typically 3 or 4℃ and may cause your sparkling wines to loose their fizz!
2 - Do not store wines in strong light or direct sunlight, even artificial light will cause the wine to heat up in the bottle and it may become old and tired before its time and will affect the taste as it may cause unpleasant tastes to develop.
3 - Most wines are best laid on their side to allow the cork to remain in contact with the wine. If the cork dries out it will let air into the bottle and the wine will oxidise. We are often asked if this is so with Stelvin Closures (Screw Caps) and as these become more common will this affect the way we store wine? The simple answer is that nobody really knows yet. In principle as the closure does not appear to deteriorate it would be a sensible suggestion but until we keep some of these wines for a long period we will not know. It must also be recognised that most of the wines with Stelvin Closures and not of a level where you are likely to keep it for long periods!
4 - Finally, avoid vibrations in order to keep the wine undisturbed.
So if you, like most of us leek to keep a few bottles of decent wine for you own pleasures but don't have the cellar or room for that very expensive wine fridge what are the options? Well you just have to be a little imaginative and use what you have! A cupboard under the stairs can be reasonably good and avoids the worst issues, a spare or room can also be helpful or maybe a utility room but not mine, full of freezer, central heating boiler, washing machine and dryer, not to mention the big window for all that sunlight, it is always the warmest room in the house.
If you are into the 'En Premier' style of wines that need laying down for the odd decade then think about commercial cellarage, we have a contract where the odd case in a temperature and humidity controlled warehouse is not a prohibitive sum, this can often be offset by keeping it 'In Bond' (duty and VAT unpaid). It also ensures that the provenance is maintained so if your wise investment turns out to be worth 20 times the purchase price in 10 years time there is no doubt that it is the real deal!
We hope that this may help a bit in preserving your wines, but unfortunately there are no guarantees in the wine business so please treat this as it is intended - It should also be noted that we are offering our thoughts in good faith and to industry good practice. Warlingham Wines offer no guarantees or warranties and cannot be held responsible for any wines that do damage however carefully kept.