Most of the wine sold in stores today is not meant to be aged and must be consumed within a year or two after purchase.

Even so, it is important to keep those bottles appropriately stored to ensure that when the wine is finally uncorked, it tastes its best. Now, for the 1% of wine that is meant to be cellared long term, proper storage conditions are even more critical. Wines designed to be cellared for 10, 15, or 20 years are considered an investment and should be treated with care. Here is an essential guide with tips and tricks for aging wine.

understairs cellar with wood floors
Custom Understair Glass Wine Cellar with Modular and Peg Racking by Vinotemp

The Best Environment for Wine

For proper wine storage, keep wine under the following conditions:

Temperature: Warmer temperatures cause the wine to develop faster. Therefore, the space you designate for your wine should remain a consistent 55◦F.
Humidity: should be between 70-80%. While humidity inside the bottle is 100% due to the wine, the liquid is only touching half of the cork, leaving the rest of the cork in danger of drying out. Higher levels of humidity are ideal for wine, but greater than 80% and the moisture can destroy the labels on the wine bottles.
Darkness: Wine has a delicate chemical makeup that can be altered when exposed to intense light, particularly UV rays. Light also gives off excess heat.
Stillness: Unwanted vibration will cause a chemical reaction and kick up sediment that has settled inside the bottle.

How can you achieve the best environment for your wine collection? With an active or passive wine cellar.

Organize Your Collection in an Active or Passive Wine Cellar

An active wine cellar features a temperature-controlled unit that ensures bottles are stored at a consistently cool temperature. Some cellar cooling systems can even help to maintain humidity. The first and most costly option is a traditional wine cellar. A wine cellar consists of a dark and insulated space where wine will not be harmed by UV rays, wine racking, and a cellar cooling system. Some wine cellars are large spaces that can house thousands of bottles, while some wine cellars are smaller spaces like an unused closet or area under the stairs that can store a few hundred bottles. A wine cabinet is a viable alternative to a traditional wine cellar as it can hold a large number of bottles, is insulated, and can be paired with a cellar cooling system. You can also recess wine cabinets into a wall or unused closet for a seamless application. Wine coolers are the easiest storage solution as they are designed for plug and play use and have many of the same features as a wine cabinet, glass door, sturdy racking, and digital temperature control.

A passive wine cellar is a space that naturally maintains the proper temperature and humidity for wine, without the use of a cellar cooling system. A subterranean space is most often the best location for a passive wine cellar as the ground remains naturally cool. If you are lucky enough to have an underground basement that maintains consistent temperatures year-round, you may add some wine racks to the space to house your wine collection. A passive wine cellar may also be a cave, such as the wine caves in France and California.

If you are ready to add a wine cellar, wine cabinet, wine cooler, or wine racks to your home, please feel free to contact Vinotemp. We can assist you in selecting the best wine storage for your collection as well as answer any questions you may have about cellaring.