Wine is a living substance and needs to be carefully nurtured and protected. It is sensitive to storage conditions and is one of a few consumable products that can improve with age. However, if conditions are anything less than perfect, your precious investment could well be ruined.
Storing your wine in particular conditions will affect the rate at which it ages. The lower the temperature, the slower it will mature. Conversely, its ageing will be accelerated by storing it in warmer conditions. Dramatic swings in temperature must always be avoided. Temperature can damage the colour, aroma and flavour of your wine. Humidity will also affect the condition of your wine: too little will cause the cork to dry and lead to oxidation, whilst too much can damage the label and even the case.
The delicate structure of your wine needs to lie maturing undisturbed and free from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light and vibration. Exposure to these will once again damage the quality of your wine. It is also important to make sure that where you store your wine is well ventilated. This will ensure that you avoid the risk of musty smells, which can penetrate through the cork, affecting the flavour and quality of your wine.
It is imperative that your wine is physically and financially secure. Your precious investment should be properly insured, and you need to go through your insurance policy with extra care so that you understand exactly what is covered.
So when it comes to storing your precious wines, as an investment or to drink, when they are laid down to mature there are a number of very important things for you to consider:
Humidity - Wine should be stored only where the humidity level can be constantly maintained above 70%, and below 80%.
Temperature & Air Quality - It is important to store wine at 13-14 degrees Celsius and to keep that temperature constant for the entire period of its storage. The store should also be well ventilated.
Light & Vibration - Your wine should be laid down away from light, and where it can be free from vibrations.
Security & Integrity - Your wine must be physically and financially secure. In case of loss, your investment must be appropriately covered.
The best wine storage facilities are where a wine can be laid down in a quiet, dark, relatively humid place free from contaminants, and where temperature and humidity are maintained at a constant level. Wine cellars located underground often offer a naturally stable environment in which to store your wine, and therefore have an obvious advantage over other above ground storage facilities.
Storage is a critical stage in the life of your wine, and you must never take anything for granted with it if you want to ensure that your wines are matured to perfection.