Camille Berry is a Certified Sommelier and a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).
She lives in San Francisco and the UK.
If you’re a wine lover wondering how best to store your growing collection, this is your guide to home wine storage. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned aficionado, there are plenty of ways you can store wine at home to prevent spoilage and maximize aging potential, even if you don’t have much space—no cellar needed.
How to store wine at home
These are the five keys to successfully storing wine in your home.
Keep the temperature consistent.
Maintain steady humidity.
Keep your wine in a dark place.
Avoid storing your wine near vibrations.
Store corked bottled on their sides.
Fluctuating temperatures are wine bottles’ number one enemy. A thermostat creeping higher and higher could end up causing your wine to become “cooked’ or maderized. Instead of that beautiful Burgundy you hoped to age for a decade or two, you’ll wind up with something that tastes more like Sherry.
Essentially, the warmer your wines are, the faster they age. If the purpose of aging wine is to help them develop more gracefully and grow in complexity, don’t keep them in a warm environment—that means the top of the refrigerator is out of the question.
Make sure not to chill bottles too much either. Aim to keep your storage area or cellar at a cool 50°F–58°F.
Humidity is equally important. A stable, humid environment will help preserve corks so they don’t shrivel, which can lead to oxidation. For a temperature range of 50°F–58°F, the optimal humidity is around 70%.
3. Light and vibration
Light and vibration can also cause wine to age prematurely. Play it safe and set up your home wine cave in a dark, quiet corner of the house.
Finally, unless you’re planning on drinking a wine in the near future, always store corked bottles on their sides. Laying them down will stop corks from drying out and letting air into the bottle—you want to make sure the bottles stay airtight.
If you have a few screw cap bottles on hand, you can keep upright, on their sides, or however you please, as long as the temperature is steady.
You can easily order one to best meet your needs and the demands of your wine collection. If you’re looking for convenient access to your trove, you can keep a small wine cooler on your kitchen counter.
2. The wine cellar
If you’re blessed with extra space, whether it’s a spare room or an unused basement, you can transform it into a walk-in wine cellar. Furnish it with sturdy wine racks so you’re able to lay your bottles on their sides, and install a unit to control the climate and maintain a constant temperature and humidity.
The best wines for aging
Now, here’s the exciting part—the best candidates for long term cellaring. A few basics to keep in mind:
The more tannins a wine has, the better suited it is for aging. Tannins are compounds found in grape skins, which help preserve the wine and have an astringent effect on your palate.
Acid also acts as preserving agent and helps to make wine more food friendly. Sugar accomplishes the same.
Wines aged in oak tend to last longer, in part due to wood tannins.
So what are the best wines for the job? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
White or Red Burgundy—Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, respectively. These are essentials for any wine collector. Crus Burgundy make for the best aging.
German Riesling—Made in a range of completely dry to unctuously sweet, Riesling is a high acid white wine that is excellent for aging. Sweet versions can last for many decades.
Chenin Blanc—Like Riesling, this Loire Valley white wine can be dry or fully sweet.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab-based blends—Look for examples from Bordeaux, California’s Napa Valley, a high-quality Chilean Cabernet, or Australia’s Margaret River or Barossa Valleys.
Nebbiolo—This Italian red grape variety makes its way into the legendary wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. With high tannins and high acid, these are some of the longest lived reds you’ll encounter.
Sangiovese—Another Italian red grape famous for Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, and more.
Vintage Champagne—While the sparkle may fade as the decades creep on, aged vintage Champagne is a unique experience, becoming phenomenally complex as it slumbers in the cellar.
Typically, red wines are better for aging than whites, but naturally, there are exceptions to the rule. As mentioned above, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc can last for decades. Other whites, particularly those with high acid like certain Italian whites (Verdicchio, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo), can last anywhere from four to seven years.
We talk to photographer, educator, blogger, and author of The Forest Feast cookbooks, Erin Gleeson, about her golden rules of gatherings—those nuggets of wisdom that make hosting that much easier and that much more enjoyable.