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Wine Secrets
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Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
A stable, cool temperature between 40°F and 59°F is ideal for storing wine and the temperature shouldn't fluctuate by more than about 12 degrees.Why? Because a rise in temperature can cause the bubble of air between the cork and the wine to expand, forcing wine out between the cork and the bottle. Then, a temperature drop can create a vacuum, forcing oxygen in through the cork. And of course, oxygen is wine's greatest enemy. For this reason, be careful when transporting good bottles of wine when it's very hot or cold outside.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
Despite the secret above, good wine can generally withstand the odd temperature fluctuation.The cellars of Bordeaux in France for instance fluctuate by a few degrees seasonally, which doesn't hurt the wines. The reason is probably the gradual rate at which the temperatures change.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
You also want to store wine in a fairly humid environment if you're laying them down for any length of time. Humidity levels over 50 percent ensure wine corks don't dry out and shrink, which can let oxygen in and wine out.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
To be sure your best bottles remain in fine form, you can invest in a temperature and humidity controlled storage cabinet— Eurocave is the current leading producer. Another option is to buy a cooling and humidifying unit for your insulated cellar.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
If you choose to trust the conditions of that little room in your basement for aging your best bottles, invest in a digital thermohygrometer. It's a device that costs about $50 at your hardware store and tracks the humidity and temperature of the space, including the minimum and maximum levels. Placing a basin of water in the room can improve humidity levels in a pinch.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
If a wine is sealed with a screwcap or plastic cork-like plug, it's generally not made for aging, so drink it as young as possible.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
As a wine matures in bottle, chemical reactions happen that change the wine. Storage time changes the balance of fruit, alcohol, tannin, and acidity; increases the complexity of flavors and aromas; and eventually makes it unpleasant to drink. A rise in temperature speeds up these chemical reactions so a warm storage spot for your wine will age it faster. This means, don't store bottles you want to keep fresh—like that delicate Loire white or Beaujolais Nouveau—in warm places, such as in the cupboard over the stove. On the other hand, if your cellar is very cold, your ageworthy wines might last longer than you think.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
Store wine bottles on their sides, ideally with the neck sloping slightly upwards. This position keeps the cork wet, the air bubble between the stopper and the wine in the bottle's shoulder, and sediment collecting towards the bottle base.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
Ever wonder why some better Champagnes are wrapped in curiously heavy cellophane? It's because the wrap is actually light-proof. Light can change the flavor of wines, particularly sparkling ones. Long-term exposure to light can produce flavors of wet cardboard— a condition known as "light struck." This is why wines should be stored in the dark and why many are now sold in very dark bottles. It's also a reason to avoid buying wines that seem to have been sitting in the bright light of a wine merchant's window for ages.

Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
Storing wine away from major vibrations is a good idea as not to disturb the wine's intricate chemical alchemy while aging. If good wine has been subjected to vibrations, let it rest a few weeks before serving.

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