How to Store Wine to Keep It Fresh
Wine fridge or no wine fridge, here’s how to keep your bottles tasty.
Are you tired of making pour decisions when it comes to wine storage? Here’s everything you need to know about keeping unopened and opened bottles fresh for as long as possible:
How to Store Unopened Wine
Keep your wine collection in tip-top shape with these simple storage tips:
Temperature Is Key
The ideal temperature for wine storage is between 45° and 65° (many purists keep their collection at exactly 55°). Anything above 70° can degrade the wine, while cold temperatures could dry out the cork and allow oxygen inside the bottle. Kitchen refrigerators should be kept at 40° or slightly below to ensure food safety, so the fridge is probably not your best bet for long term wine storage.
More important, though, is to keep the temperature consistent. Extreme temperature changes will cause the liquid to expand and contract, which could cause seepage.
Do You Need a Wine Fridge?
It depends on how serious you are about your wine. If you’re the kind of person who only keeps a few bottles around your house at a time for casual drinking, a wine fridge probably a waste of money.
However, if you are an avid collector or someone who enjoys having a wide selection available at all times, it may be a necessary purchase. This is especially true if you live in a hot or humid climate—a wine fridge ensures your expensive bottles are protected from the inhospitable environment. On the market for a wine fridge? This top-rated model is currently $100 off on Amazon!
Pick a Dark Area
Avoid storing wine in rooms that receive a lot of sun, as UV rays can cause the wine to spoil prematurely. But it’s not just sunlight! If you have the option, turn the lights off. Even fluorescent bulbs can degrade the wine over time.
Always Store Horizontally
The direction you store your bottles is an important factor in wine longevity, but a lot of people don’t realize they shouldn’t store them upright. This keeps the liquid against the cork, which prevents it from drying out and allowing air to seep inside. Instead of keeping your bottles standing on the kitchen counter, invest in a wooden wine rack that keeps them horizontal (like this one).
Avoid Humidity Extremes
The humidity sweet spot for wine storage is between 50 and 80 percent. Anything too high may result in mold, while anything too low could dry out the corks. If you’re concerned that the air is too dry where you’re storing your wine, place a pan of water in the area or mist the wooden walls or wine rack with water every so often.
Know When Wine Is Past Its Prime
Even if it’s stored perfectly, most wine isn’t meant to last forever. Talk to your local wine shop owner if you’re looking for a bottle that will last 10 years or more. Otherwise, try to consume your reds within three years and whites within one year.
How to Store Open Wine
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Leftover wine? What’s that?? (Just kidding—as someone who frequently writes about food and beverage storage, I hear that joke far too often). If you’ve opened a bottle you don’t plan to finish within a few hours, here’s what to do:
Reduce Oxygen Exposure
The most important thing when it comes to wine storage is to keep oxygen out of the bottle. This becomes more difficult once you’ve popped the cork, so it’s imperative that you seal the opening tightly. You can buy wine stoppers that actually remove excess air from the bottle before sealing. These will keep leftover wine fresh for about a week (this top-rated Wine Saver comes with four wine stoppers). In a pinch, though, use the cork the bottle came with.
Refrigerate and Keep Temperature Steady
Refrigeration slows the deterioration of your wine. Sealed tightly in the fridge, wine can last three to five days after opening. Don’t heat red wine in the microwave before drinking. Instead, place the bottle in a lukewarm bath to return the wine to a desirable temperature.
Store It Upright
I know, I know—I just told you that wine bottles should be stored horizontally! However, once they’ve been opened, vertical is best. This position minimizes the surface area that’s exposed to any oxygen that may seep in.
It’s tempting to leave leftover wine on the counter, but you’ll want to avoid doing that if your kitchen gets a lot of sunlight. The inside of your pantry or a closed cabinet are safer choices.