To enjoy aged wine, is it necessary to construct an elaborate wine cellar, carved into the depths of your home? Absolutely not. The most important part of creating a space to store your wine is finding a place where they will not be attacked by wine’s major enemies: light, heat, and humidity.
There’s a reason why most cellar-worthy wines come in a dark brown or green bottle. Just as your skin doesn’t appreciate too many UV rays, neither does your wine. Heat will cook wine, ruining it fairly quickly. Wild fluctuations in humidity can damage the cork, allowing too much oxygen to invade the bottle. So to start aging wines, find the coolest, darkest spot in your home. As long as there are no radical fluctuations in heat or humidity, you should be ok.
So why go through all this gratification-delaying effort? As wines age, primary, fruity flavors start to mingle with the unexpected delight of savory secondary notes. Wine is a living thing, constantly evolving and changing. And not just red wine; if you’re looking for value for the cellar, German Riesling can offer astonishing levels of pleasure and complexity.
Just don’t wait too long to enjoy them. Many wines are made to be enjoyed as soon as the are bottled. Particularly white wines, lighter reds, sparkling wines, and most wines under $30. The wines that really benefit from age tend to be the big reds from Bordeaux and Burgundy, Spain, Italy and California. You can keep tabs on the “drinkability” of your wines through websites such as cellartracker.com, which tells you whether to drink or hold specific bottles.
Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, "Wine Cellar, Legal Sea Foods - Boston"