In this post, I will attempt to answer some of the most common questions people have about storing wine. If you have any questions about wine, send them to me and they may appear in a future blog post!
1. Do I need a cellar or wine fridge to collect wine?
No. The biggest enemies of wine are sunlight and heat. The purpose of a wine fridge or cellar is to keep wine in a dark, temperature controlled location. You can accomplish this same objective by storing your wine in a dark, cool place in your home. The bottom of a closet, under the stairs, in a corner of your basement, etc. would all work just fine. One of the worst places to store wine is in your kitchen due to temperature fluctuations from cooking. That said, if you are planning to hold on to your wine for 10 or more years, you should consider purchasing even a small wine refrigerator, just for those special collectable bottles.
2. How long can wines age?
The aging potential of wine is variable based on grape variety and winemaking style. The factors that help wines age are acidity, tannins, alcohol and sugar. So generally speaking, full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Bordeaux and Brunello di Montalcino can age for a longer period time (some for decades) because they contain higher tannins and alcohol levels. Dessert wines will also age longer because they contain higher acidity and sugar levels. Certain full-bodied whites, such as high quality Chardonnay, can be cellared for 7-10 years.
However, most white wines with are meant to be drunk young, within 1-3 years. These wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinto Gris/Grigio and Prosecco, tend to be light and fruity, and will lose their fruity aromas and flavors very quickly. Similarly, lighter red wines should be drunk young, like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
3. Why is wine stored on its side?
Storing wine on its side allows the wine in the bottle to stay in contact with the cork. This helps to prevent the cork from drying out. If you plan to drink your wine within a few months of purchase, it’s fine to stand it up, but any longer than that and the wine should be placed on its side. A dry cork lets in oxygen which can destroy your wine.
4. At what temperature should I store wine? Is it different for reds and whites?
The ideal storage temperature is between 55-58 degrees F. However, wine can be stored just fine between 45-65 degrees F. Any colder than that and the cork will dry out. Any warmer and you will cook your wine. You can store both reds and whites at the same temperature, but you would serve them at different temperatures once you take them out of storage.
5. How long can I keep an opened bottle of wine?
An opened bottle of wine will generally last 3-5 days. An open bottle of sparkling wine will only last for 1-3 days before it loses carbonation.
6. How should I store an opened bottle of wine?
Re-cork your bottle between glasses to reduce the amount of oxygen that gets in. White wines and sparkling wines should be stored in the refrigerator. Red wines should be stored in a cool, dark location, and only refrigerated if the weather is hot and humid. Keep the bootle upright to reduce the surface area of liquid that is in contact with oxygen.
if you would like to store your wine longer, consider a wine preservation system that sucks oxygen out of the bottle or replaces oxygen with an inert gas like argon.