Under ideal conditions many wines benefit from bottle aging. Tannic red wine becomes less astringent and mellows out. Most white wine doesn’t improve with age, but all benefit from protection from temperature fluctuations, (especially heat), UV radiation and vibration. Organized storage makes finding a bottle easier and helps keep track of your collection. Too many of us have opened a bottle we forgot about to find it had gone bad. And last but not least, it’s just ridiculously cool to have one!
What are the ideal conditions for wine?
Wine should be kept in a cool, relatively damp, dark place free of vibration. Cool means somewhere between 55-61 degrees fahrenheit, depending on which expert you want to believe. Before the advent of modern cooling systems wine was stored in underground cellars where the temperature was fairly constant at 55 degrees. Some believe that wine ages too slowly this cold and are keeping their cellars warmer to allow the wine to develop faster (and drunk sooner!)
Damp is a relative humidity of 50%-70%. Any less and natural corks can dry out, even in bottles laying on their side. Any more and the labels start to mold. The advent of synthetic corks is changing this but if you thought cellar temperature was a contentious subject, try natural vs. synthetic corks!
Dark really means away from direct sunlight and any source of UV radiation. Ever notice how your bottles are mostly green or brown? Just so happens those colors protect best from ultra violet light.
Vibration is one that lots of people don’t think about. Especially those that are manufacturing free standing wine “fridges” that have a compressor in the bottom. The chemical process that makes your wine taste so good happens best in a stable environment.