By Harold McGee
Wines are sensitive liquids, and require some care in order to keep well and even improve during storage. They’re best kept in some version of the traditional cellar: a moderately humid, dark, cool place. Bottles are stored on their sides, so that the wine wets the cork and prevents it from drying out, shrinking, and allowing air in. Moderate humidity keeps the outer portion of the cork from shrinking, and constant temperature prevents volume and pressure changes in the liquid and air inside the bottle, which can cause air and wine movement in the space between bottle and cork. Darkness minimizes the penetration of high-energy light into sparkling and other white wines, where it can cause a sulfury off-aroma similar to that found in light-struck beer and milk. And low temperatures, between 50 and 60°F/10–15°C, slow the wine’s development, so that it remains complex and interesting for the longest possible time.