It is usually possible, however, to find somewhere in the home where wine can be stored correctly. A cupboard under the stairs or in an unheated spare bedroom may be suitable. You can use insulating materials such as foam blocks or polystyrene, and there are even commercial cabinets, electrically cooled to ensure the wine is kept at the right temperatures so that it ages slowly and correctly.
If you are storing a lot of wine, it is worth the effort to prepare a special room for it. You could convert part of the roof space using insulating materials so that the temperature is constant and the humidity about 65 per cent. Maintaining an air flow is essential to prevent mould on the bottles and condensation. Damp will also cause labels to come off, which may cause confusion. Wine must always be stored on its side so that the corks stay moist If the cork dries out, it shrinks and air enters the bottle. The wine becomes oxidised and you finish up with expensive vinegar.
Wines don’t like to be disturbed so they should be moved as little as possible. You should never contemplate drinking a really fine old wine until several weeks after buying it because it needs time to settle. And great care must be taken when you fetch it from its storage space into the dining room.
If you are planning a dinner party you should collect the wines from their storage space at least 12 hours (ideally a day) before they are needed. This allows them to warm up to room temperature and allows any sediment to settle. The practice of some top restaurants of bringing the red wine up to room temperature by popping it in the microwave for a few seconds is not to be encouraged.
Most wines do not require decanting and the corks can be pulled about 30 minutes before they are needed. Red wines do improve if they are allowed to breathe, and fine old reds should be handled with great care.