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Q: I've recently started buying wine at auction and would like to start a collection, but my apartment barely has enough room for me.

A: A bigger apartment, even if you could find one nowadays, isn't the answer. Fine wines are like cranky old men: They do not like change. Variations in temperature or humidity, and exposure to direct sunlight, spoil the flavor of wine faster than you would think. The ideal storage temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit; at 75 degrees, wine quickly starts to deteriorate, resulting in what professionals call "cooked" wine. (Which is why the absolute worst place to store your wine is in one of those cute racks that hang above your kitchen counter -- right next to the oven.) Humidity needs to be kept at around 75 percent, to prevent the cork from drying out. And sunlight is a no-no, because ultraviolet rays somehow foul up a wine's flavor crystals, or something. To keep your aging friends happy, consider moving them into a home where they can grow old in peace. At Chelsea Wine Vault & Storage (75 Ninth Avenue, near 15th Street; 212-462-4244), a fifteen-case locker costs $30 per month, and for $4 a case the staff will make door-to-door deliveries and pickups in Manhattan. Other companies that offer the same service at about the same price include Vintage Wine Warehouse (665 Eleventh Avenue, at 48th Street; 212-245-4889); Morgan Manhattan Wine Storage (2100 Hunters Point Avenue, Long Island City; 718-786-3304); and Acker Merrall & Condit (160 West 72nd Street; 212-787-1700).


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