Proper wine storage is very important to maintaining a wine’s flavor. Wine is very sensitive to temperature and light. Temperatures that are too high or too cold, as well as rapid fluctuations in temperature, will destroy a wine’s flavor and greatly reduce the value of more expensive wines. It is important to note that not all wines age well, and most are not suitable for prolonged storage. Only high-quality red wines, and some white wines like Chardonnay, should be stored for more than one year. Most store-bought wines should be opened and consumed within six months.
Proper Storage Environments:
If possible, wine should be stored in a wine cooler or temperature controlled room or cellar. Red wine should be stored between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit in a dark place. Most red wine bottles are made from colored glass to help protect the wine inside from light exposure. White wine can be stored as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Placement of Wine in Storage:
Wine should never be stored standing upright for long periods. When a bottle is stored upright, the cork sealing the bottle can become dry and shrink. This will break the seal on the bottle and ruin the wine. Wine that has been ruined in this way is referred to as “corked” wine. It is usually undrinkable and must be thrown away. Instead, wine bottles should be stored at a slight downward angle on a properly constructed rack to ensure contact between the wine and cork. A bottle lying flat also ages more evenly than a bottle standing upright. If wines are stored over a period in excess of one year, they should be periodically turned on the rack to ensure proper and even aging.
After a Bottle is Open:
Wine does not last long after being uncorked. Open wine should be consumed within three days for best flavor. Always reinsert a cork or stopper back into open wine. Open bottles, including red wine, can be placed in the refrigerator at this stage for preservation. There are also modern methods to preserve open wine longer, including the use of special vacuums and nitrogen pumps. These devices remove the oxygen from the bottle and replace it with nitrogen that does not react with the wine. Open bottles can last nearly a week with these methods, but they are expensive.