Wine Storage is important. Between the financial investment in wine, and the fact that some wines benefit from aging over time means that the storage of wine and how to store wine are important factors. It’s also nice to know how to preserve your wine once you open it. From short term preservation to some longer term options.
I get asked often about wine storage, and whether it matters. This round up is long, but goes into detail about storing wine and our favorite storage options. Take care of the wine and it should take care of you.
Is Wine Storage Important?
Heat is the #1 enemy of wine, well that and temperature fluctuation (hot, then cool, then hot, then cool again, and so on…). Warmer temperatures will prematurely age a wine, and if a wine gets too hot it could spoil it (think turning it into vinegar).
These temperature fluctuations will create chemical reactions that will ultimately spoil wine.
Light is also a factor to consider. Too much direct sunlight can also spoil a wine (so keep your wine away from any direct sunlight or bright indoor lights!).
Your kitchen counter, or above your refrigerator, are NOT the best places to store your wine.
Why Store Wine?
Some wine is meant to be laid down and stored for years before you drink it. And when you elect to collect and save those special bottles, it’s really important to protect that investment through wine storage.
- If you’re starting to collect, beyond just a few bottles here or there that you plan to consume within a few weeks of purchase, and you live in an apartment or home with no basement (where you might find dark, cool, consistent temperatures with some humidity), it may be time.
- Storing wines for a longer period of time (beyond a few weeks or months) means keeping the storage temperature of the wine stable. If temperatures fluctuate a lot between the winter months and summer, this will affect the quality of your wine. Your kitchen refrigerator is too cold for long-term storage, and your cupboards can be too warm. Remember, wines are also sensitive to light and humidity, so keeping them, say, near a window with direct light could damage the wine.
- Basically, if you’re spending your hard earned money on nice bottles of wine you plan to save for any length of time (beyond the weekend) and enjoy with someone special, you should put equal investment in where you plan to store said wine.
Wine Storage Temperature
Ideally, your wine will benefit most from cooler and consistent temps (around 50 – 65 degrees F). While we highlight target temperatures, the most important is consistency and keeping it on the cool side.
This goes back to European days when the wineries would store the bottles in old basements or cellars that were consistently cool and slightly humid.
Humidity also matters. Too dry and the corks can dry out, causing oxidation in the wine (premature spoilage). Too humid and mold can develop on older bottles which can cause flavor profile issues when opening them.
White Wine Storage Temperature
In general store white wine at 46 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The average kitchen fridge is 36 degrees, so finding a way to keep white wines at 46 – 50 degrees F is great.
Red Wine Storage Temperature
Red wine is best stored at cellar temperature or 56 – 65 degrees F. We target 56 degrees F in our personal collection of reds.
Serving Temperature for Wine
This is a personal preference and can vary by varietal, but generally white wines are best served coming out of a fridge temperature of 36 degrees (maybe a few degrees warmer, to allow the aromas to open up. Too cold and you can’t smell the fruit in the wine). An exception to this would be Chardonnay which we find drinks better closer to 45 to 46 degrees.
We like red wines at slightly above cellar temperature (but below room temperature) or roughly 62 – 65 degrees F. But that is really geeking out. In the end drink it the way you like it.
Types of Wine Storage Options
The goal of any storage is to maintain that consistent temperature and humidity. Below are some common storage scenarios.
This can be any part of your house based on where you live. Wine storage, with no other options like a rack or cooler, are best in the part of the home that has consistent temperature and less light that can pierce the bottle.
- Basements – The most ideal setting, as they are typically low light, lower temperature and have more stable humidity. However not all homes have basements (our home doesn’t).
- Closets – Closets are a great place if you are in an apartment or condo. They are dark, and minimize light, and can be more temperature stable.
Wine Storage Racks
You can always use racks, but racks require building out, or buying pre-made kits and a larger space for storing the kits. These are great for those with an extra room or basement, especially if you have a larger number of bottles. Check out Wine Enthusiast for some Q and A on wine racks.
Wine Coolers or Wine Refrigerators
Wine coolers come in various sizes and are some of the best options for any type of space.
- Single-Zone – These have one temperature control and are a great starting place for a collection. These are best set at 56 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dual-Zone – These coolers have two zones. We set the cooler zone up top (46 degrees for white wines and sparkling) and the warmer zone on the bottom (56 degrees for red wines). Or side to side if the model is set up that way.
- Multi-Zone – In some circumstances you can get three zone units, but these are significantly more expensive. Instead of a multi-zone, consider getting two single or dual-zone units.
Sommelier Tip – When reviewing coolers, see if they can fit both Bordeaux (thinner) and Burgundy (wider) bottles. This will impact total storage capacity.
Wine Preservation – Making It Last
So you found the right set up for your budget and space for storing the wines. Now you are trying to determine the best options to preserve wines once you open the bottle and determine you may not finish it all at once. Once the wine is open, it is exposed to oxygen. And while that helps open a wine, it becomes metallic and spoiled after too much exposure. So wine preservation methods are all meant to minimize oxygen once the wine is open.
Here are some of our favorite ways to preserve wine.
Up to 24 hours
Bottle Toppers – If you have about 24 hours until you think you’ll drink the rest of the wine, consider a simple bottle topper. You can start with the cork and just snugly put it back into the top of the wine bottle. If you don’t have a cork, there are many options to consider.
- For sparkling wine use a Kloveo sparkling wine topper. Trust us, the rest just pop off or aren’t designed for the many sizes of sparkling wine bottles. This specifically preserves the bubbles for up to 24 hours. Retails for $25.00 per topper, but it’s worth it.
- For still wines where you destroyed the cork (it happens) most toppers will do, but a specific wine topper we like is the Vacu Vin. It’s been around a long time. Simply place the topper onto the bottle top, and use the vacuum tool to suck out the air. Retails for $20 for a starter kit which includes the vacuum attachment and four toppers.
Up to 7 Days
Inert Gas – Using an inert gas that is sprayed into the wine is an easy and affordable way to save the wine for up to 7 days. You simply use a very thin tube (comes with the set) and spray three short bursts of the gas. Then add the cork back and make sure it’s snug. Ready to drink a few days later. Retails for around $20.00 for a set of two.
4 Weeks and Up
The Coravin – Coravin is the most proficient and the most effective way for both short and long term storage. Not only does the Coravin help with short term preservation (under 7 days), it also helps with longer term preservation. There are a few models to select from.
- Coravin Pivot+ – This model not only preserves, it also aerates. Retailing at $129.99, it is a great investment for those who consume one nice glass of wine at a time from a bottle and want it to last up to four weeks.
- Coravin Timeless Six – The Timeless series is great if you have multiple bottles of wine you want to preserve and will preserve for months, or years, per their website (we drink all ours before that timeframe can be validated). All you do is insert the unit over the neck of the bottle, it inserts a fine needle through the cork. Then you simply pour the wine into a glass. This system retails for $299.00 but is completely worth the investment if you are a collector. Over time you’ll need new cartridge’s but if you are wanting to preserve wine and savor a glass here and there, this is really the only quality tool that will get it done. Bonus: This even comes with screw cap adaptors so you can preserve a screw cap wine.
Frequently Asked Questions
First, be sure it’s at a consistent temperature and avoid direct sunlight. From there expand to a temperature controlled wine refrigerator or wine closet for longer term preservation. For short term, use a heavy gas option to make a bottle last longer once opened.
This will depend on the wine. The average bottle purchased at a grocery store is meant to be consumed in less than 2 years. Wines with acidity can also last longer whether whites or reds. From 5 to 50 years depending on how the winemaker approaches the wine making. No matter the wine, storing it in a consistent temperature and humidity level is ideal.
More Wine Resources
- Introduction to Wine Tasting
- Food and Wine Pairing
- Intro to Burgundy Wines
- What is Champagne
- Sparkling Wines for All Holiday Occasions
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