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.