by Staff Writer
You don't need an expensive wine cellar to properly store wine. A basement or closet with a few wine racks can provide a sufficient wine storage area, or you can opt for a wine cooler. Wine coolers are small, temperature- and humidity-controlled refrigerators fitted with wine racks. Some wine coolers allow you to set different temperatures for different wines.
Unopened bottles: For those bottles of wine that you plan to drink right away, a countertop wine rack is a smart idea, and they look nice, too. Just be sure not to place the wine rack next to the dishwasher or over the refrigerator as these appliances give off vibrations and heat. If you are going to drink a white or sparkling wine the same day of purchase or within a few days, it is fine to put it directly into the refrigerator. You will want to take it out for a short time prior to serving. The same is true for opened and refrigerated wine.
Opened bottles: For storing opened bottles of wine, a wine bottle stopper is a handy tool to have. An opened bottle of white wine or sparkling wine can be stoppered and stored standing up in the refrigerator. For the best taste, avoid storing opened bottles of red wine in the refrigerator.
The most important elements of a home storage area for your wine are constant temperature and limited light. Wine suffers from variations in temperature as well as exposure to direct light; this includes artificial light. In order to age properly, wine needs a dark, cool place with a constant temperature. A temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity of 70 percent is ideal. You want your wine storage area to be humid enough to ensure that the corks of your bottles don't dry out and crack; however, you don't want a space so damp that molds will be encouraged to grow.
Wine bottles should be stored on their sides to keep the corks from drying out and letting air into the bottle. Buy a wine rack large enough to accommodate the number of bottles you need to store. If you are keeping wines for an extended period of time, turn the bottles a quarter turn every month.