Sitting pretty

Finding the appropriate place to store wine is an issue for almost every wine lover, yet the principles are not that difficult to master.

Keeping wine for more than a few weeks requires proper storage conditions hard to achieve in many homes. Wine needs to be kept still, dark and at a constant temperature with good ventilation. Humidity should be on the high side, and there should be no disturbing smells or vibrations. Strong light, too, can harm wine, especially white wines. Finding the appropriate place to store wine is an issue for almost every wine lover, yet the principles behind storing wine are not that complex, nor difficult to achieve. However tempting it is to display bottles in the dining room or kitchen, keeping them in the dark will be much better for the wine. Temperature is the most important factor in storing wine. The ideal is a constant, low temperature ranging from 5 to 18 C, but the optimum is in the middle of this range around 12 . If the storage temperature slowly moves from around 10 in winter to even 24 in summer, no great harm will be done. But if it changes by this amount every week, then you might expect some problems. Wines kept at too high a temperature will age faster than wines kept at a low temperature. Moderate humidity is important so as to keep the corks in good elastic condition, thereby preventing them from shrinking. Wines should be stored in such a way that you don't have to move them around to get at a particular bottle. Table wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist so it prevents air from entering the wine. If there is no cellar available, and creating one isn t an option, you have two choices: to insulate a cupboard or a part of a room, or to invest in temperature-controlled cabinets. A 36-cm. wide electric minicooler based on a new cooling technology with no motor or compressor (which avoids vibrations) is sold at Domo stores in Herzliya and Rishon Lezion for NIS 950. It holds a maximum of 12 bottles. If your wine is worth it, and paying for it won't leave you penniless, then Viking's high-end digital controlled temperature wine fridge (divided into three cooling sections and good for storing up to 150 bottles) can be bought at the Kastiel store in Tel Aviv for $11,000. But there's a smaller (38 cm. wide) and cheaper one holding 24 bottles for only about $4,000. In the early 16th century, in the heart of the Carmel mountains, an 80-meter-long, nine-meter-high cave was excavated as part of the Ottoman building scheme in the region. Over the years, the cave was used as a warehouse for storing foods, and in the 19th century it was converted into a brandy and wine cellar. In 2000, Avi Lerner and Dani Dimbort of the Binyamina winery chose the cave as the optimal cellar to age a unique series of an excellent wine bearing the name "The Cave" (Hame'ara). The Cave winery is now presenting its 2003 vintage: A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot grapes from a single vineyard in Upper Galilee. This red wine was aged for 26 months in French oak barrels, and then matured for five months in the bottle. It has ripe fruit aromas of dark plums and cassis with tones of dark chocolate and sweet spices. The 2003 Hame ara is a round rich wine with a nice vanilla finish, and will be even better with a couple more years aging. NIS 155 (kosher).