As wine lovers we dreamt of the day we could have our own private cellar for the wine we have collected over the years.
Our cellar needed to meet certain basic criteria such as minimal light, temperature and humidity.
Not all wines improve with age. Some wines are made to drink right after they are bottled. Red wines can be stored and aged 2-10 years depending on the red. White wines can be stored 2-3 years unless it is a Chardonnay or high quality wine meant to be aged. Tracking and a retrieval system of your wines with a tag or label saying "drink by" date is a simple system but there are electronic computerized systems for larger inventory as well. Tracking allows you to keep track of the maturing wine, make notes of where and when you purchased the wine, what you paid for the wine and if you have drank an individual bottle of a larger case of wine. Add tasting notes as well to keep track of how you liked the wine as well as how it progresses during maturation.
Cellars or wine storage shouldn't allow any constant stream of daylight to enter. \uV radiation can change the chemical composition of the wine. The color of the wine can be broken down by both sunlight and artificial light. Bottom line, light can affect a sine's color, taste and smell. Remember to protect the wine from a hot vehicle as well. The high temperatures on a hot day will give wine a jam taste.
Wine is very susceptible to the fluctuations between hot and cold. in a good wine cellar the ideal temperature is between 10-15 C. (50-59 F) but your collection will be quite alright up to 20 C (68 F). This is for wines you want to store and enjoy now rather than storing for decades. Long term storage 11C (52 F) would be most ideal for decade wine storage. Temperature should never fluctuate more than 2.7 C (5 F) a year. Note that red wines will suffer more temperature related problems than white wine due to over breathing.
The importance of humidity in a wine cellar is to primarily protect the cork. When the wine bottles are stored on their sides, the top side of the cork is still exposed to air. If the cork dries out and oxygen enters the bottle; the wine can spoil or oxidize. High humidity can result in mold and contamination to the wine as well as damage wine labels. Humidity levels of 50%- 85% are recommended.
Remember wine "breathes" so don't' store wine with anything that has a strong smell that will permeate through the cork and taint the wine. If you are building a cellar, your wood racks should be made of natural unpainted, unstained or lacquered wood. No chemicals or cleaning products should be in or near the cellar. Don't store your potatoes or root vegetables in the same area. Your wine will exhibit strange earthy undertones that are absorbed through the wine's cork and into the wine. Designate an area with good ventilation to prevent musty odors.
What is Vibration? A busy road or railway is obvious but what about the vibration of a moving vehicle. If your wine has been on a long car trip, it is recommended letting it relax a few weeks before drinking. A wine cellar under a stairwell may be a great use of space unless busy children continue to run up and down the stairs. This vibration will accelerate the aging of wine.