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What is the best way to cellar wine? If it is a wine that is meant to be drunk within a year or so, you probably don't have to keep it in any really special place (like an expensive refrigerator style wine cellar--check the ads in the back of wine magazines for examples), other than it should be relatively cool and out of the light. Some do say, "panic at 70 degrees" Fahrenheit.

For wines that should be aged, a cellar should have proper:

Temperaturewhich does not have rapid fluctuation. 55 degrees Fahrenheit is a good, but you can live with 50 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 14 degrees Centigrade). Wide swings in temperature will harm the wine. Having too high a temperature will age the wine faster so it won't get as complex as it might have. Having too low a temperature will slow the wine's maturation.

Humidity. About 60 percent is right. This helps keep the cork moist. The wine will oxidize if the air (and its oxygen) gets to it. If the cork drys out, it can shrink and let air in. This is another reason to keep the bottles on their sides. The wine itself will help keep the cork moist.

Lack of light.

Lack of vibration.

Lack of strong odors. Whatever it is that is causing the odor stands a good chance of getting through the cork and into the wine.

If you live in or have a cave, you probably are all set. For the less fortunate, you can buy (or even build) a wine cellar. Also, in some places, commercial storage cellars exist. Every once in a while you can go visit your wine. There are also "wine jails," wrought iron wine storage cages that can be locked for people, I guess, who live in caves?

You should know that some people have not followed the temperature rules and it is their opinion that the wines have not suffered. They have found that slow temperature swings from relatively cold to relatively warm (but not really hot) have not drastically affected the wine. Nevertheless, consistently storing wine at warm temperatures is going to age it faster and breaking the other rules probably isn't going to help.

Many people ask whether or not their can gimmick an old refrigeratoror air conditioner to store wine. This is not considered to be a very good idea. To start, refrigerators are too cold. Though this can probably be remedied by a new thermostat, there still are other problems. Wines prefer humidity, but refrigerators are designed not to be humid. If you get around this challenge, there still is the fact that refrigerators take no effort to dampen the effect of the compressor turning on and off. The vibrations throughout the appliance are not considered a good thing for long term storage. Air conditioners aren't really meant to run at the lower temperature needed by wine. If you manage to get the unit set to such temperatures, the coils may "ice up." You also need to deal with the humidity (get a humidifier). With enough home ingenuity, some common sense and knowledge, and some homework, you can convert an entire room into a wine cellar.

If you have the time, space, inclinationa and ability, you might want to try buildingyour own wine cellar. See the BOOKS section for assistance. Can this be done? Sure. The biggest hint is that you should build big. There is the natural tendency to buy wine at a faster rate than you can drink or store it. So while you're already at it, build for the future.