Updated: May 20, 2020
Storing wine can be a bit like the demands of Goldilocks in the infamous fairy tale. It has to be just right! There are a variety of elements that can damage wine while it’s being stored. The longer the wine is stored in these adverse conditions the more the wine can deteriorate, resulting in a poor wine experience. Identify the best way to store wine by following these tips.
Short Term Wine Storage
Storing wine becomes easier if you plan on drinking it within a few months. Your biggest considerations in storage will be the effects of heat and light on your wine.
However, if you place your wine in a cool, dark closet on its side and drink it within a few months. You can’t go wrong!
Longer-Term Wine Storage
If you plan to hold wine longer than a few months, consider these 5 factors that have negative effects on wine over time.
1. Storing Wine at the Optimal Temperature
Temperature is the most important factor in storing wine.
Wine Stored Too Warm and Temperature Fluctuations
If temperatures are too warm – over 70°F (21°C), the wine starts to degrade. Storing above your refrigerator, in your kitchen, or laundry room are not recommended. Ovens, stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, and so on can create some higher temperatures that aren’t a friend to wine.
Not only that, but Temp fluctuations of 10°F (6°C) or more can stress the wine, initiating the break down of the wine.
Wine Stored Too Cold
If wine is stored in a refrigerator, which usually has temperatures of about 40°F (4°C), this can be too cold. If storing wine in the refrigerator for more than a month, the cork can start to dry out allowing oxygen into the wine, which starts the oxidation process.
Ideal Storage Temperature
Ideally, both red and white wine should be stored between 55°F (13°C). A wine fridge is the best way to accomplish this. Dual zone wine refrigerators are helpful when storing white wine at serving temperatures of 40°-50°F (4°-10°C) and storing red at 55°F (13°C). Don’t rule out the single zone fridge that works just fine for storing both red and white wine.
If your space is limited or you aren’t ready to invest in a wine fridge, not to worry. Find a storage space either in your basement or cooler area of your home.
2. Effects of Light on Wine
The UV rays from sunlight and from florescent bulbs shining right on wine bottles can start the deterioration of the wine. Dark wine bottles are used to help reduce the amount of light that reaches the wine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t eliminate it.
Find a cool, dark closet to store your wine. Or if you have a wine rack display, then make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight at any point during the day. Consider using the display rack for wine that will be consumed within a few weeks or months.
For wine that will be stored longer than 6 months, find a cool dark closet to use for storage.
3. Proper Humidity Levels for Wine
Humidity levels are important for wine sealed with a cork. The right level of humidity keeps the cork from drying out. A dry cork allows oxygen to reach the wine, which starts the oxidation process. On the flip side, too much humidity could create conditions for mold to start.
The ideal humidity levels are 50-80%. The best humidity levels for any home are around 40-50%. I purchased an inexpensive humidity gauge, which revealed how tough it was for us to keep our humidity levels up during the cold winter months, even with our humidifier.
Homes in tropical climates may have just the opposite problem during the summer, trying to keep humidity levels in check.
4. Minimize Vibrations on Wine
Vibrations can affect wine by not allowing the sediment to fall to the bottom of the bottle. These particles can cause complex chemical reactions, which alter the taste of the wine.
Storing near or on top of appliances that run continually or periodically such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and laundry machines can kick up that sediment in the wine not allowing it to fully separate out and ultimately effecting the taste of the wine.
5. Store Wine on Its Side
If your wine is bottled with a cork, it’s best to store it on its side so the cork doesn’t dry out. If the cork dries out, then air can get in and the wine will start to deteriorate. It’s also easier to remove the cork when it’s not dry. Many bottles now have screw caps or glass caps. These can be stored upright.
Wine Fridge or No Wine Fridge
A single zone wine fridge works well to store both red and white wine.
If you drink your wine within a few months of purchase, no need to buy a wine fridge. If you keep wine on hand for 6 months or longer, then consider purchasing a wine fridge.
Depending on your space and how many bottles you keep on hand, you can find everything from countertop to a variety of floor models.
As mentioned earlier, the dual zone wine fridges are meant to store white wine at serving temperatures of 40°-50°F (4°-10°C) and to store reds at 55°F (13°C). A single zone can be used for long-term storage of both whites and reds at 55°F (13°C).
The reds will need about 15-30 minutes to warm up out of the wine fridge. The whites will need about 15 minutes to chill down if storing at 55°F (13°C). Just add a wine chiller around the bottle or place in an ice bucket to cool it down further.