Whether you have a few bottles of wine you’re saving for the future, or you’re beginning to amass a large collection and are wondering the best way to store it at home, we’re here to help.
First, it’s essential to know that very few fine wines benefit from long-term aging—most wines are meant for you to enjoy within a few years of their release. If you’re purchasing bottles of wine to age them, we recommend using professional-grade storage. However, for everyone else, follow these tips, and your wine will be perfect when you’re ready to enjoy it!
Related: How Long Does Wine Last?
Storing Your Wine at Home Properly: 7 Tips
1. Keep Your Wine Cool
Heat is one of the easiest ways to ruin a perfect bottle of wine. Any temperatures over 70° F will make your wine age more quickly than you want. And, if it heats up even more, your wine basically gets “cooked,” leading to a flat aroma and flavor. Ideally, when storing your wine at home, you want to keep the temperature between 45 and 65° F—many wine enthusiasts keep their wine at about 55° F. If your wine storage area is a little bit warmer than recommended, you don’t have to worry too much as long as you plan to open the bottles within the next few years.
2. But Not Too Cool
You can keep your wine in a regular refrigerator for a couple of months without any issues, but it’s not a good idea for long-term storage. Because the average fridge is much cooler than we like to store wine at, and there’s less moisture, the wine corks can dry out, letting air into the bottles and damaging the wine. You also don’t want to store your wine anywhere that it might freeze, as the liquid could expand and push out the cork.
3. Avoid Changing Temperatures
Even more important than maintaining the perfect temperature is avoiding rapid or frequent changes in temperature. In addition to flat flavors, the wine contracts and expands with temperature fluctuations, which can cause the cork to pop out of the bottle. Consistency is key—however, you don’t need to worry too much about minor, infrequent temperature changes.
4. Protect the Wine From Light
UV lights, and especially sunlight, can pose a significant risk when storing wine at home. Not only can the UV rays degrade your wine, leaving you with a bottle full of dull flavor, but it can also age the wine prematurely. There’s a reason why many winemakers use colored glass bottles—they help protect the wine from light. Light from a regular lightbulb likely won’t damage the wine, but it will fade the labels.
5. Check the Humidity
While the ideal humidity level for storing wine long-term is 60% to prevent the corks from drying out and letting air into the bottle, you don’t have to be exact unless you live in arctic or desert environments. However, if you plan to store your wine for 10+ years, humidity levels become more critical. Storing your wine anywhere from 50-70% humidity is typically a good bet. You can even place a large bowl of water in your wine storage area to improve humidity conditions. But, it’s essential to understand that having too much humidity promotes mold growth; while it won’t affect a sealed bottle of wine, it will damage the labels. If your humidity levels are too high, you’ll need a dehumidifier in your wine storage area.
6. Store Your Bottles Horizontally
Traditionally, wine bottles get stored on their sides, which helps keep the cork from drying out. However, if you plan on drinking your stored wine relatively soon (or if the bottles have screw caps or glass corks), it’s not the end of the world to store them vertically. The other advantage of storing wine bottles horizontally is that it saves a lot of space. Plus, when it comes to our wine, we’d rather be safe than sorry.
Related: Buyer’s Guide: Buying a Case of Wine
7. Keep Wine Bottles Away From Vibrations
Vibrations are known to damage wine over the long term because they can speed up chemical reactions in the bottle, aging the wine faster. While some serious collectors worry about the smallest vibrations like ones from household appliances, there’s little evidence that vibrations on such a small scale impact the wine. However, stronger vibrations can be problematic, and they can even disturb the sediment in older wines, making for an unpleasant drink later on. For shorter-term storage, you don’t have to worry about these too much unless you live in an area with frequent, large vibrations.
Best Ways to Serve Your Wine & Store Open Bottles
Serving Your Wine at the Right Temperature
When storing wine at home, it’s important to know the best way to serve it. First, allow enough time for the wine to come to the proper serving temperature to ensure that you get its full aroma and flavor. Red wine is typically served just below room temperature, and older wines at a slightly higher temp. Red wines with more tannins should be served warmer than lighter ones, which should be a bit cooler. You should chill white wines, but going below 45° F can dampen the aroma and flavor. Sweet and sparkling white wines should be served slightly cooler, and champagnes should be served the coldest.
Re-corking & Storing Open Wine Bottles at Home
An opened wine bottle, when stored properly, can last for up to five days. The key to storing open bottles is to re-cork them tightly and quickly after serving. The best way to recork wine is to wrap the cork in wax paper before sliding it back into the bottle. The wax helps ease it into the opening and ensures that no pieces of the cork fall into the bottle. If you damage the cork when opening the bottle, you can use rubber wine stoppers to get a tight seal for storage.
Related: Ideas for Leftover Wine
Enjoy your wine the way it was meant to be—with the best wine glasses and accessories from Taste of Purple!