You’ve picked the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ve let it age for a couple of years (or maybe just a couple of days—we’re not judging). But when you open the bottle, you’re disappointed.

The problem might have more to do with your storage technique than your taste in full-bodied reds. Where you keep your wine can affect how your next glass tastes. To get the best from every sip, follow these five recommendations for storing wine.

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1. Keep It Cool.

If you pay attention to one tenet of wine storage, it should be this one.

“Temperature is the most important factor to consider,” said certified sommelier Rachel Voorhees, director of education at Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, CA.

Voorhees advises that the best temperature range for wine storage is between 45 degrees and 65 degrees, with 55 degrees being close to perfect.

So if you currently keep your wines in a rack on your kitchen counter, it’s a good idea to move them to an area that doesn’t experience so many elevated temperatures and fluctuations.

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2. Maintain Proper Humidity.

“If the humidity is too high, mold can grow. If the humidity is too low or the environment is too dry, corks can crack, allowing air to leak into the bottle,” Voorhees said.

So consult your hygrometer—uh, wait, you don’t have a way to measure humidity levels in your home? You should be fine if you avoid problem areas like dank basements, spaces near water heaters or, once again, the kitchen.

3. Stay Away From Light.

Resist the temptation to put your bottles of wines on display.

“Light, especially UV rays, can prematurely age and degrade wine,” Voorhees said.

Instead, choose a dark area that’s not close to any windows, such as a cabinet or a low shelf. If you don’t have any dark spaces available, wrap your bottles in cloth to block out the light.

4. Lay Bottles on Their Sides. 

While you’re scoping out the perfect location for your wine, don’t forget one of the easiest but most important tips: Place your wine bottles on their sides.

“Wine is ideally stored on its side so that the liquid comes in contact with the cork, keeping the cork moist,” said Mark Aselstine, proprietor of the Uncorked Ventures wine club.

What’s the problem with a dry cork? Without sufficient moisture, your cork might crumble into the wine, which isn’t a fun cleanup job, Aselstine said.

5. Use Dedicated Wine Storage.

If you’re building a collection of wines or you have a few special bottles that are aging, consider purchasing a wine fridge that automatically sets the correct temperature, humidity and exposure to light.

Wine aficionados who own large collections or who lack enough space at home should seek out self-storage facilities that have dedicated wine storage.

“If you spend money on wine, whether it be for short- or long-term storage, it’s best to protect that investment in the best way possible,” Voorhees said.

Anne Wynter

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