Cheaper by the dozen doesn't just apply to doughnuts. If you buy wine by the case, you need to store it--and if you do it right you'll have fine-tasting wines to enjoy for years to come. Many white wines can be stored from two to five years, while red wines will last--and generally improve--for five to 20 years, sometimes longer.
Keep the temperature of your wine closet, refrigerator or cellar between 50 and 65 degrees F (10 and 18 C) for red wines, 45 to 60 degrees F (7 to 15 C) for whites, or as directed by a vintner or wine merchant. Store your white wines closer to the floor and reds higher up. Cooler temperatures generally won't harm wines, but can delay their development.
Maintain a relative humidity in your cellar or storage area of about 70 percent for cork health.
Store bottles on their sides so that the corks stay in contact with the wine. Keep the area dark, if possible, but definitely out of direct sunlight. Use incandescent lights: Fluorescent bulbs give off more ultraviolet light, which can penetrate bottles.
Use untreated redwood for storage bins or racks. It won't deteriorate in cool, humid wine-cellar conditions.
Hang identifying tags on the necks so the bottles don't need to be disturbed when you want to know what bottle is what. Keep bottles of the same vintage together as much as possible.
Use many small bins rather than a few large ones. Racks that hold individual bottles are ideal.
Think strategically when you arrange your cellar. Keep the more frequently used wines by the door, and the long-term investments in the cooler, darker corners.
Know what you own and be able to find it quickly. Make a database of your cellar's inventory. Give each wine a location number and listing, including the wine's name, vintage, producer, appellation, vineyard name, region, county, type (red, white, rose', sparkling), quantity owned, price paid per bottle, value (at latest estimate) and size of bottle (half-bottle, magnum). Add tasting and pairing notes, and keep the file outside of the cellar so you don't have to disturb the bottles to check.
Store wine in the garage if where you live doesn't get beastly hot in the summer. Garages tend to be cool, dark and free of ultraviolet light--ideal for wine. See 90 Organize the Garage.
Get a freestanding wine refrigerator if your house doesn't have a basement, an appropriate cellar or a garage. A wine refrigerator will hold between 24 and 200 bottles under ideal conditions.