ADAM STRUM (Editor and Publisher, Wine Enthusiast magazine): Ah, see, that's a very popular misconception. Most people think they should keep white wines chilled and their red wines at room temperature, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your kitchen refrigerator is too cold! The optimal condition for storing wine is between 53 and 57 degrees, and between 60 and 70 percent humidity. Even though it's mainly reds that age and mature, the storage temperatures apply to all wines — white, red, sparkling, or rosé.
But what about when it's time to have a glass?
When you're serving wine, it's a totally different thing. Whites, sparkling wines, and rosés should be chilled further to between 44 and 48 degrees, and reds should be set up to reach about 62.
Why do they have to be treated so preciously?
Because if wine is kept in too warm a place, it matures too rapidly and can go bad. Too cold a climate can retard the natural aging and the wine never grows, never matures. Light is also bad for wine. And if the bottle isn't laid horizontally in a rack, with the cork lowered, then the cork will dry out and air can penetrate. All you're left with is a really nice vinegar for your salad. Most wines are consumed within a week of being purchased, but for people who enjoy collecting or even want to keep 6 or 12 bottles around, a nice little wine refrigerator is a really smart idea.
Okay, I'm convinced. But I really don't have space for another refrigerator.
There's a size for every need, from cellars for six bottles up to custom-built walk-in wine cellars that hold 60,000.
Wait, a cellar or a fridge?
There's basically two types, a wine cellar and a wine cooler or refrigerator. A cellar has both temperature and humidity control, which is what serious collectors get. Then there are the refrigerators, which maintain temperature but don't have humidity control. The real wave now is for thermoelectric, because they're more green — they use less power, and don't use chemical coolants like a traditional fridge.
So what should I buy?
Get a little fridge that can sit on your kitchen counter, for either 6 or 8 or even 12 bottles. They're really inexpensive, less than $200. Make sure they have a digital readout that shows the temperature, and nice sliding shelves to make it easier to see the labels. Look for UV-protected glass on the door. It protects the wine, and it's also nice-looking. Wine bottles and labels are like art, so displaying them can give you a real sense of pleasure.
And for those who don't live in a tiny apartment?
A lot of people plan their new kitchens with built-in, under-the-counter wine cellars. A 32-bottle fridge fits nicely in the space of a trash compactor. Most people who collect have from 50 to 150 bottles of wine. For that, you can integrate a cellar into your kitchen cabinets that has double doors — one side for cellaring, the other to chill whites for serving. EuroCave, a French company that I think is the best name in the business, makes an upright fridge you could put in the living room, it's so attractive. There are portfolio cellars, which are wine fridges built into furniture, and hutches and credenzas that would work in any room in the house. You can do a custom installation in an empty closet or convert a basement into a walk-in cellar.
Isn't that rather expensive for the average home?
It all depends. Custom cellars can range from $3,000 to $300,000.
Settle a bet for me: How long does a bottle of wine last after it's opened?
Only a day, I'm afraid. Once air gets in there, it starts oxidizing.
ADAM STRUM IS CHAIRMAN AND COFOUNDER OF WINE ENTHUSIAST COMPANIES;