The general chapter and verse quoted among wine
experts is that the quality of wine in the bottle is affected by air, heat,
light, and motion. The experts will tell you the ideal conditions to store wine are
between 52-56 degrees Fahrenheit in a dark, motionless cave or temperature controlled
environment, which keeps the cork from drying out so that air cannot interact with the
One expert stated in an authoritative publication that if your wine
was exposed to temperatures above 70 degrees F. that the wine was ruined and that it
should be consumed within 2 years!
Please, give me a break! 90% maybe even 98% of all wine produced
worldwide is consumed within two years after it is purchased. If you are a collector
buying that 2% of wine that reaches its full potential in 10 -20 years, by all means
invest in a proper storage unit. If you are like the rest of us poor schlepers, dont
worry about it!
From a practical standpoint, purchase wines from a vendor whose
inventory turns over at a reasonable rate, Common sense is the guiding principal. Try to
buy from vendors who air condition their wine area and where the wine is not exposed to
direct sunlight. You know you are in trouble when the temperature of the store is 85
degrees, wine is stacked next to the window where the noon day sun hits it directly, or
the bottles are dusty!
Seriously though, wines stored between 65 and 80 degrees do
deteriorate more rapidly, but if you are like most of us, it isnt a problem if the
wine is consumed within a few months. Having said that, I have to tell you the story about
the time I was invited for dinner at a friends house.
My friend had 6 bottles left of French Sauternes from a quality
producer that were about 15 years old at the time. Generally, quality Sauternes can be
consumed within a few years of their vintage date, but come into their own with multiple
layers of complexity between 10 and 20 years.
Needless to say, the wine we opened was a disaster! The cork came
apart in pieces; not a good start. The color of the wine was dark and unappealing, not the
classic golden honey color indicated for properly aged Sauternes. Finally, none of the
velvety honey and nutty flavors remained, replaced only by unappealing brunt flavors.
The morale of the story is that proper storage does count but it
only becomes truly relevant if you plan to drink wines 10 or 15 years from the date of