How to Properly Store Wine
There are many important factors to take into consideration in regards to proper long term wine storage, some of which are listed below. These factors also apply to short term wine storage, but to a lesser degree of course. While not everyone has the means to address each of them, striving to address as many as possible (especially in the case of long term storage) will greatly enhance the enjoyment of collecting and drinking your wine.
Light And Vibration
A stable temperature of between 48 and 55 degrees is of the utmost importance when storing wine. Any sharp changes in temperature can damage your wine so stability cannot be stressed enough. Slow changes in temperature, such as between seasons, should not be a problem.
70% humidity is a generally accepted level, but anywhere between 50 and 70% should suffice. Insufficient humidity can cause corks to become dry which could allow air into the bottle and speed aging. Excessive humidity will not damage your wine, but can cause damage to labels.
LIGHT AND VIBRATION
Excessive light will cause premature aging of your wine and may produce unpleasant odors. Infrequent, short exposure should not cause any negative effects though. Your wine should be stored in an area relatively free of vibration: away from appliances, machinery and loud noise in general as excessive vibration will disturb the sediment in your wine.
The area where your wine is stored should be clean, well ventilated and not used to store food or other items that produce too much odor. Odor from food or other items may enter the cork and alter your wine. This will also keep your storage area and wine free of insects.
Your wine should be stored horizontally to keep the cork moist at all times which will prevent air from entering the bottle and damaging your wine.
As a final note, if you plan to drink your wine shortly after receipt, it is best to let it sit at least a few days (longer if possible) in order for your wine to settle. Robert Parker weighed in on this topic in 2003:
"Travel shock- I've been fascinated by this for two decades. Nothing but personal observations, but here they are:
1. Big tannic reds often taste more open and fruity...once they have some time in a cool cellar/storage, their structural/tannic framework becomes more dominant. I frequently find tasting young Bordeaux more pleasant immediately after arrival than after 4-6 months in the cellar...this tends to apply to all Bordeaux varietals, regardless of origin. My experiences with syrah, mourvedre based wines are similar.
2. Aromatic/more delicately nuanced reds such as pinot noir, nebbiolo, cabernet franc (and this includes the handful of Bordeaux made with high percentages of franc), rarely perform well after shipment. These wines actually require 4-6 months to find their equilibrium/fruit/and personality.
3. Virtually all serious white wines (dry and sweet) do not show well immediately after transport. I don't know why, but they often seem to taste hollow and out of balance. A mere 1-2 months of rest seems to encourage the fruit to rebound and the wine's personality to emerge.
These are broad generalities, but represent patterns that are repetitive in my tastings. Hope these thoughts help clarify a bit one of winedom's great mysteries."