In my last article, Take the Mystery Out Of Wine Tasting, I discussed the basics of wine tasting.  In that, there was a discussion with one of my readers about wine and wine storage.  This lead to a thought that maybe it would be a good idea to talk about the basics of how to properly store wine.

How To Properly Store WineHow To Properly Store Wine,

Regardless of the price, we never want to put our wine in a situation where it could go bad. So knowing how to properly store our wine is important.  There are a number of factors to consider when storing wine.

    • Light Exposure
    • Humidity
    • Bottle Orientation
    • Temperature
    • Moving or Vibration
    • Storage

I will describe each of these areas and how they can affect wine.

Light Exposure:  Light is not wine’s friend. It’s great for plants but not for wine. Whenever possible keep your wine away from direct light especially direct sunlight where UV rays can penetrate and ruin the wine.

How To Properly Store Wine, findingourwaynow.comHumidity:  The optimum humidity for wine is 70-75%. This is especially important with the natural cork used to cork/seal the bottle of wine. Proper humidity keeps the cork from drying out. If the cork is dry, it will allow air into the bottle that can cause the wine to spoil or oxidize.

Bottle Orientation:  There is a reason most wine racks are designed to store wine on their sides. This allows the cork to stay in contact with the wine and not dry out. Research has shown that keeping wine bottles on their side and at a slight angle will allow the cork to maintain partial contact with the wine, keeping the cork damp.

Temperature:  It’s important to remember that wine is very susceptible to changes in temperature. This fact makes temperature control a very important consideration when storing wine. If a wine is exposed to a high temperature (in excess of 75 degrees F) for long periods of time, it may spoil or develop off flavors. The exact length of time that a wine is at risk to high temperatures will vary depending on the type of wine. Wines that are exposed to high temperatures during the winemaking process are better able to sustain exposure to high temperatures. More delicate wines such as Riesling can be more susceptible to temperature fluctuations and are affected more quickly.

How To Properly Store Wine,

Conversely wine exposed to temperatures that are too cold can cause the wine to freeze and expand which could push out the cork. This action will obviously allow oxygen into the wine bottle causing the wine to spoil.

Dramatic temperature swings such as repeatedly transferring a wine from a warm room to a cool refrigerator can also cause adverse chemical reactions in the wine that may lead to a variety of wine faults. It’s recommended that wine be kept at a constant temperature between 50 and 59 degrees F.  The most ideal temperature for the storage and/or aging of wine is 52 degrees F.

Moving or Vibration:  Moving wine often will hasten the aging process.  Therefore, place the wine in a location where it will not be moved and leave it there until you’re ready to consume the wine.

How To Properly Store Wine,

Storage:  For the everyday wine drinker, always locate a cool dark place to store your wine.  Place it tilted on it’s side and leave it there until you’re ready to imbibe.  If you can, buy a small wine refrigerator or chiller, which will allow you to store your wine at the proper temperature, humidity and will prevent the wine from being moved until ready for use. These wine refrigerators/chillers are more readily available at very reasonable prices and worth the investment if you have a stock of wine on hand.

Note:  Champagne & Sparkling wines are a bit different.  It is often recommended that we store Champagne upright rather than lying on its side. Champagne and other sparkling wines tend to age better if they’re kept upright because the internal pressure caused by the trapped carbonic gas provides enough humidity and protection from oxygen exposure.

I know what you’re thinking… Does she have a wine chiller?  The answer is yes. It was a great investment, and I love it. It wasn’t expensive at all, and I keep it in my garage.

I do hope you found this information helpful and useful.

What has been your experience with storing wine? How and where do you store your wine? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Time for a glass…

If you enjoyed this post check out Wine & Cheese Pairings: The Perfect Pairs, Basic Wine Terms & Definition and Taking the Mystery Out Of Wine Tasting

PS: What are some of your favorite wines? I would love to hear and showcase your suggestions.

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  • Merle Gibbins

    Great information Susan. I have a wine rack in my passage but never knew why it should be on its side. Now I know. I also never knew about standing champagne upright. I had a nice bottle of Barefoot last night but that is screw top !! Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Merle, Thank you, Don’t you find that many time we do things without understand the reason? When we know we are more likely to do them properly. Champagne was surprise to me when I was first told but it made sense. Thanks for stopping by. :-)))

  • HB

    This was cool information. I did not know whay you needed to do some of the things. This is very helpful. Thank you.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi HB, Awesome, I’m glad I could help. :-)

  • Julie

    WOW, I loved this info. I’m going to set my Champagne up right now. :-)

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Julie, Thanks and that is the right thing to do with Champagne. :-)

  • doreenpendgracs

    Terrific article, Susan. the proper storage of wine can be almost as important as the wine itself! My latest fav (for everyday drinking) is a Chilean Merlot from the Maule Valley. We’ve been enjoying this Casa Patronales 2010 Reserva that is a stunning value at $8.95. They were clearing it out at our wine store so we bought a case. Tastes like a $20 bottle of wine and goes exceptionally well with red meats, grilled meats, and of course … chocolate.

    • Susan Cooper

      Thanks Doreen, It really is and can make all the difference in its taste. I love your wine choices and will look to show case them in the future. WOO! HOO! :-)

  • Cheryl Therrien

    This is a great post for those if us ignorant of the reasons for why wine is stored the way it is.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Cheryl, It pleases me that I could be of some help with this. Yeah!! :-)

  • Rebecca Thompson

    It is very rare wine lasts long enough in our house for storage :)
    However, we do have a nice bottle of Grange that we have needed to take care of, so I am going to print this and keep it in our makeshift wine cellar – thank you!

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Rebecca, That used to be the case with me… LOL. but there are just way to many great boutique wineries close by. I am so glad I could help in some small way. A good wine really does deserve a bit of attention to keep it from at its best.. :-)

  • Michael Belk

    Susan I am not a big wine fan, but when I do drink them I like a dark, sweet taste. I bet that covers a lot of wines but I also like drinking it slowly not really to get drunk.
    I think wine is suppose to be enjoyed.
    Keep teaching us.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Michael, Regardless of the type of wine, it really helps to know how to store it to make sure it’s always at Its best. I’m with you on savoring the wine and all it brings. You miss so much if you’re just trying to get a buzz. :-)

  • Jo-Anne

    I enjoyed this post I have often wondered about how to store wine and now know a little more about this thank you, what is the best way/temperture to store a sweet dessert wine……….

    • Susan Cooper

      Thanks Jo-Anne, It would be the same. If it’s a fortified wine (wine that has alcohol added to it) it requires no refrigeration. I hope this answers your question. :-)

  • Ann Odle

    I guess I m storing my wines backwards–I have all my sparkling wines in the refrigerator, but they’re on their sides, while the rest is in the closet in a box but they are upright. I would love to find a spot to put a wine chiller, but because I have such a small house, I’m not sure where to put it (yet).

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Anne, Ah, that is a very common thing people do. I do hope I have helped.

      I know you’ll find a place for a wine refrigerator soon… LOL. :-)

  • Jeannette Paladino

    Susan — I know that I should have a wine refrigerator but I live in an apt — I don’t have a garage — or even a car! (I live in Manhattan). I didn’t know about storing sparkling wines upright. I will correct that right after I hit the “post” button for this comment/

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeannette, That’s a bummer. I do understand. I have a small on in the closet in our apartment in Irvine. I am so glad I could help with the Champagne thing. :-)

  • Jeri Walker-Bickett

    My ranch friend stores her wine and canned goods in an old stone cooling house. It works great! Not that I rarely keep a bottle of red wine around for more than two days, but why do some red wines seem to last longer than others once opened?

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeri, That is a great place to story wine. The environment would be constant and perfect for wine. Red wines are generally much sturdier because heat is often used in their fermenting process. Where white wines that is not the case. :-)

  • Mary Slagel

    I would love a wine chiller. I have several bottles of wine on my bar at home but I generally have to clear space in the fridge for them if I want them chilled when I am ready to drink them. Your article is very informative. I did not even take into consideration many of these elements of wine storage. My problem is not properly storing the wine once it’s been open. It always seems like a great idea to open a bottle of wine but I know I’ll have to finish it if I do and that sometimes is just not doable so instead, when I open wine and the bottle does not get finished, I put a wine stopper in the top and put the bottle back on the shelf. The problem is I quickly forget about it because sometimes I go out the next night or am not in the mood for a glass of wine. It’s a problem I really need to work on.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Mary, Yeah I have the same problem. I find that if I use a vacuum seal stopper. For reds I leave it on the counter in clear sight. For whites I will put it in the fridge in an obvious place. It’s not full proof but it seems to work a good bit of the time. :-)

  • Kelly Wade

    Very interesting, I never knew that wine was stored sideways so that the cork would stay damp but it makes sense. I can understand that all of these factors could have an affect on the taste of wine which you especially wouldn’t want to change with a nice bottle.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Kelly, Thanks, It please me that you’ve found this interesting and helpful. When you have a great bottle of wine, making sure it stays at it’s best it is so important to the overall drinking experience. :-)

  • Susan Oakes

    Great tips Susan. One question for you is do you still have to put the wine on the side if it has a screw top or doesn’t it matter?

    • Susan Cooper

      Thanks Susan, Even with a screw top they say to lay wine on it’s side. The screw top may not have as tight a seal as it should and the slight pressure at that point with the wine on it side will prevent any air from seeping in. So the rule of thumb, regardless of the seal or closure is to lay wine in it side.

  • Adrienne Jones

    Man, I had no idea that storing wine was such a delicate proposition! Luckily for us, when my husband buys a bottle of wine it’s usually gone pretty quickly :)

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Adrienne, It really is about just knowing what to do and not to do. I get that about not lasting long. It really is the best way. :-)

  • Dan Meyers

    Ok, perfect timing for this post as our few “good” wine bottles are in my parent’s garage after we moved them out of the Uhaul. I’m going to run out right now and bring them in because it’s supposed to get below freezing tonight!!!

    • Susan Cooper

      WOO!HOO! Dan. I am so glad I could help save your wine. Freezing is definitely not a good thing for it. :-)

  • Karen Koblan

    This is such a great post. I really had no understanding about how to store our wine. I have an old wine rack in a corner of the dining room and kind of just “throw” the wine in there. Over the holidays we received some wine as gifts and I hate to say it but they are kind of just stored right now on a counter in the kitchen. I’m glad I read this!

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Karen, Knowing what to do and not to do can greatly impact our enjoyment of wine. I am so happy I was able to provide you with some help in this area. :)))

  • Jon Jefferson

    I actually built a wine rack over the summer so I could store my meads properly. They are bottled just like wine.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Jon, That’s way cool! I get that and now you have space for a few bottles of wine my friend… LOL. :)

  • HomeJobsbyMOM

    Ah…this was the idea that I gave you that you mentioned. Super useful for a wine novice like me :)

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Krystle, Yep, I’ll give you all the credit for this idea. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

      • HomeJobsbyMOM

        My lack of knowledge was just inspiration. It’s all on you :)

  • HomeJobsbyMOM

    My husband was talking about how wine is supposed to be tilted when stored. I had no idea that’s why wine racks are the way they are. Learn something new every day.

    • Susan Cooper

      Hi Kryslte. I know what you mean, me too. Most people think it for decoration, but there really is a purpose as to why we store wine the way we do. :-)

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