Finding the perfect place in your home to store wine is not as easy as it sounds. There are a few factors to consider that will help your wine last a lot longer. First, find a place in your home that can maintain a consistent temperature all year long. A basement or dark closet can work. Next, it is best to avoid places that change temperature throughout the day and each season. Keep wine away from windows, heating units and out of attics and garages. These changes in temperature can definitely affect the quality and shelf life of your wine. Below are some tips to keep your wine in tip top shape so you can enjoy it for many years.
Wine Storage Temperature
Temperature is one of the most important factors that affect the quality of stored wine. It is best to store wine between 45 and 65 degrees. In the beautiful wine cellar that we all wish we had in our homes, the perfect temperature is 55 degrees. Wine should not be housed in an area that is below 25 degrees, as the wine will freeze. Temperatures above 68 degrees can cause the aging process to speed up, ultimately spoiling your wine. In addition to maintaining a consistent temperature, humidity level is important as well. Humidity should stay around 70 percent to avoid dried out corks. Mold can form if the humidity is above 70 percent. Maintaining constant humidity and temperature will ensure that your wine lasts a long time. Here is a general guideline for wine storage temperatures.
- 60 – 65 degrees: Full-bodied red wines and port wine
- 50 – 60 degrees: Full-bodied white wines and light fruity red wines
- 40 – 50 degrees: light, dry white wines and sparkling wine
Wine Cellar Temperature and Humidity
Storing wine in a wine cellar requires consistent temperature and humidity. A temperature of 55-57 degrees is a perfect range to be in. Humidity of anywhere from 50-80 percent is safe for wine, but keeping the level at 70 percent is best. Consistency is the key, as fluctuations in temperatures can cause the liquids to expand and contract. This can cause pressure on the seal of the cork causing leakage and possible spoiled wine. This is one of the reasons storing wine in a regular refrigerator for more than a few months is not recommended. Consistent humidity is important as well. If the cellar is too dry, corks can dry out, allowing air into the bottle spoiling the wine. On the flip side, damp conditions can promote mold. A properly sealed bottle will keep the contents inside safe, but could damage labels on prized bottles of wine.
Wine Refrigerator Temperature
Standard refrigerator temperatures are usually kept at 40 degrees or less to ensure food is properly stored. This is too cold for wine to be kept long term. You will need a storage space where the temperature and humidity remain consistent. A wine refrigerator or wine cooler is a good investment. A wine fridge keeps wine between 50-60 degrees and maintains proper humidity levels. In addition, it is space saving, dark, and cool which wines prefer.
The Best Way to Store Wine
If you own screw top wines, those are perfectly fine to store upright in a cupboard or pantry. If you have wine with corks, it is best to store those horizontally. Upright storage can cause the cork to quickly dry out. This can cause seepage, premature aging, and spoiled wine. If your only option is to store your wine standing upright, try your best to store the wine tilted or a bit diagonal. This will allow the wine and cork to touch, keeping the cork from drying out.
Storing the wine on it’s side keeps the cork moist which is important for long term storage. This ensures that the wine and cork are always in contact with each other, preventing unwanted oxygen from getting into the bottle. If you are planning or drinking your wine sooner rather than later, the positioning of your wine does not matter. But, for the long haul, laying your wine down is better for the life of the wine.
Protecting Wine from Light and Vibration
Whether you are storing your wine in a basement, cellar, or wine fridge, make sure those areas are in a dark place. This will help preserve the freshness of the wine. Always keep wine out of direct sunlight or fluorescent light. Exposure like this can damage aromas and flavors. Have you ever wondered why wine is typically bottled in colored bottles? It is to help protect the wine from harmful sunlight. White wine is especially vulnerable to the sunlight, as most are bottled in clear glass.
Too much vibration and movement of wine can actually alter the chemical structure of the wine. It also disturbs the sediment at the bottom of the wine, which interrupts the process the wine goes through to age. This is another reason that regular refrigerators are not good for long term storage. Vibrations from the compressor and the opening and closing of the doors is not good for wine. It is alway a good idea to store wine away from furnaces, speakers, laundry rooms, furnace rooms, or any areas exposed to vibrations.
Storing Open Wine
Once you open a bottle of red wine, if stored properly, it can still be good for 3-5 more days. White wine can last in the refrigerator for upto 3 days. For best results, tightly re-cork the wine as soon as possible. If the cork will not work, use a rubber wine stopper to create a tight seal. The goal is to try and keep as much air out of the bottle to help maintain the original quality and taste of the wine.
One tool we recommend is a Coravin. This wonderful tool helps you pour a glass or two of wine without breaking the seal of the bottle. It uses a needle to draw the wine out of the bottle, and puts argon gas (the gas used in wine-making) back into the bottle to protect the remaining wine from oxidation and going bad. This allows you to enjoy a glass now and the rest of the bottle weeks, months or even years in the future.
Bonus Trick: If you cannot afford a Coravin, there is a nice little trick you can do. It doesn’t work as well as a Coravin, but it does work to extend the life of the wine! Once you open a bottle, pour what you don’t intend to drink in a smaller bottle to the highest possible fill level. This method minimizes the contact with air except the tiny pocket of air between the wine and the cork and it actually works!
This works best if you transfer what you don’t intend to drink as soon as you open the bottle. Keep an assortment of bottles between 2-12 ounces to store what you don’t finish.
If you do this diligently, you should be able to drink the wine up to 2 or 3 weeks after opening the bottle. Better wine that needs aeration to show up nicely holds up better with this trick than inexpensive wine that gets ruined over the course of an evening.