Wine, like anything else, changes over time. It is therefore important to produce desirable changes and avoid harmful ones. You can do this by controlling the air, temperature, light, vibration, and humidity of the storage space interacting with the wine.

Nothing spoils good wine faster than too much air. This not only causes it to lose freshness but, more importantly, it causes the wine to oxidize. This results in premature aging and before long, you have vinegar instead of wine. Fortunately, glass is impermeable to air and a good cork will keep air exchange to a minimum for years.To get proper aging, all wine has some air in the bottle to begin with. After you have bottled the wine, the air that is introduced in the wine due to the handling needs to be worked out past and through the cork. Excess of air (oxygen) will oxidize your wine taking away its pleasant fruity flavor in return for a nasty smell. For this reason leave your bottles a week to 10 days upright in the box.

After that it’s important to ensure the cork remains moist so no additional air is allowed to enter the bottle. That’s why it’s advised to store your wine horizontally to keep the cork from cracking or shrinking, thus admitting unwanted air. In addition, storing wine at around 70 percent humidity will help to keep the cork properly moistened (too low humidity dries it out; higher humidity encourages growth of mold and mildew.

The importance of the cork in a wine bottle is often underestimated, it does play a major role in ensuring your wine stays fresh and ages properly.

Proper temperature is another major factor is ensuring your wine stays drinkable before you open it. If a wine is stored in conditions that are too cold, it causes the cork to shrink (thus letting in air). If the conditions are too warm, the wine will age faster than it should.

The optimum temperature for storing wine is 10-12°C (50 to 55°F). However, any constant temperature within 5-18°C (40-65°F) is acceptable. Many people store their wine in cellars to maintain these temperatures. Small collections can be kept in wine cabinets, which come in all sizes and styles to fit your personal tastes.

Even more important that the actual temperature is the rate of temperature change. A ten degree change over a season is harmless, but frequent and rapid changes can severely damage wine, even when stored within the desired range.

Along with controlling temperature and humidity, light exposure should be kept to a minimum. Though modern bottles have good UV filters, some can still penetrate — leading to a condition called ’light struck’. This shows up as an unpleasant aroma. Incandescent bulbs produce less ultraviolet light than fluorescents, so the former are preferable.

Vibration interferes with aging and stirs up sediments. Try to avoid moving bottles until ready to be served.

Interestingly, bottle size also plays a part in storing wine (albeit a rather small part). A larger bottle has a smaller ratio of air to wine so when you can, purchase or use a larger bottle. Once the bottle has been opened and if you don’t expect to consume the remainder in a few days, I would suggest that you transfer the leftover wine to a smaller bottle or use a vacuum pump and store cold.

Generally speaking, if you’re a casual drinker (not a collector) and drink your wine within one year after purchase, you can store wine just about anywhere that is not exposed to light or heat (basement, closet, pantry, under the sink).

Suggested aging

It is a misconception that the longer the wine is aged the better. The opposite is not true either.

As a general rule, white wines need less aging than red wines. To obtain a balanced aroma (nose) and taste (mouth), wines from different kit sizes that are just bottled require different time to age.