The longer you have a bottle of wine, the more important the way you store it becomes. I have seen two wine collections in my life — one numbering a couple-hundred bottles — that were destroyed because the owner didn’t take proper care of the wine. Even I have had wine go amiss due to irresponsibility.
The first thing that’s sure to ruin a bottle of wine is heat. The longer you have a bottle, the more heat will affect it.
A bottle you are going to drink within a week will be fine if you leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days in 80-degree heat, but it won’t be good like that for a few months. Any bottle you plan to keep for more than a month should be stored in a place that stays between 45 and 65 degrees, and the less fluctuation in temperature, the better. I keep mine at a controlled 55 degrees.
Remember, the longer you have the wine, the more sensitive it will be to how it is stored. If you plan to keep wine longer than a year, I would suggest getting a temperature-controlled refrigerator. Any bottle worth aging is worth aging properly.
Positioning is also important. You want to store your wine on its side, not standing straight up and certainly not upside down.
If you store your wine standing straight up, the cork will dry out, allowing oxygen to get in, and the wine will become oxidized. If you store it upside down (I know none of you would do this), the wine puts pressure on the cork, and eventually it will leak.
When a bottle is stored properly on its side, there is no pressure on the cork, but there is still contact with the wine to keep it moist. If you have a case of wine in your closet or in your garage, keep it on its side.
Trust me — these techniques are worth it. There is nothing worse than opening a bottle of wine and finding out it’s vinegar — especially if you’ve looked forward to it for a long time. Cheers!
• Austin Twohig is a certified sommelier and partner in The Santa Cruz Experience, which conducts winery tours in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.