Knowing how to properly store your wine can make a huge difference in the taste and how long it will last on the shelf. There’s nothing worse than opening a bottle of wine that has been in storage only to find out that the taste has changed for the worse.
You want to make sure that your wine is properly stored for the long term, and the short term, so that you preserve the flavor and quality of the bottle. It’s also important to know which types of wines should be served and what temperatures. This will also help produce the best flavors possible, while maintain the intention of the winemaker.
When it comes to long-term storage, red and white wines can be stored in similar fashion, but for short term storage, meaning you intend to drink the wine within a few days/weeks, there are different ways to store each type of wine, and different temperatures you should keep the bottles at in order to maintain their intended flavor profiles.
Let’s take a look at how to properly store your wine for different situations, and at what temperatures you should be serving your wine at so you get the most out of that bottle.
Properly Storing Red & White Wine
If you are the type of person that likes to buy multiple bottles of wine at a time, or like to always make sure you have a bottle on hand for any occasion, then you’re most likely going to be storing some bottles for longer periods of time.
In the case of long-term storage, there are some things you’ll want to make sure you do to keep the wine from going bad.
And yes, wine can go bad over time if improperly stored.
Unlike serving temperature, which we’ll discuss further down, there is no difference in the long-term storage of red versus white wine. All of your wine can be stored in the same way as long as you adhere to the following rules.
1. You want to make sure that your wine is stored in a cool, dark, location. A wine cellar or a basement are perfect places to store your wine. If you don’t have either of those, a wine cabinet with a door that shields the bottle from light, is another great option.
Light can cause damage the wine and cause it to lose the flavor that the winemaker created. By keeping it away from sunlight, you can ensure that your wine is protected.
Temperature wise, you want to make sure that your wine is stored somewhere where the temperature remains between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. You also want to make sure that the humidity level is around 70 percent. The humidity will help prevent the cork from drying out, which leads us to our next tip.
2. You always want to store your wine on a very slight angle with the cork side down. Obviously, this won’t matter as much if you’re bottle of wine is a screw top, but you want to do whatever you can to prevent the cork from drying out.
If the cork on your bottle starts to dry out and crack, it could lead to oxygen entering the bottle causing oxidation. Oxidation is the enemy of wine and can significantly change the flavor of your wine. This is the same reason why a bottle of wine that has been opened, doesn’t taste nearly as good a few days later than when it was first opened.
You want to do all that you can to prevent the cork from drying out and storing the bottle on a slight angle will keep the wine up against the cork and will keep it moist.
3. Finally, you want to avoid a location that has a lot of vibration. If you plan to store the wine for a long period of time, we suggest putting it onto your wine rack and then trying not to jostle the bottle around as much as possible. This is also why we suggest not storing the wine in your refrigerator until shortly before you intend to drink it.
The vibrations from the fridge, or from picking up the bottle multiple times, can also affect the flavor. So if you’re really looking to preserve that special bottle, just set it and forget it.
What Temperature Should I Serve Wine at?
Most people will argue that, in general, white wine is supposed to be served chilled and red wine is supposed to be served at around room temperature, but that’s not always the case according to wine experts.
Red Wine Serving Temperature
This notion that red wine is supposed to be served at “room temperature” has been floating around for ages. And because this idea has been around for so long, the ideal “room temperature” has changed over the years.
While today our “room temperature” usually hovers around 72-73 degrees Fahrenheit, in the past it would refer to temperatures in the mid-50’s to low 60’s. And because of this change over the years, you’re probably serving your red wine a bit too warm.
Most red wine is meant to be served between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit to help maintain the intended flavor of the wine. If you’re wine is too warm the alcohol taste can push through making it sting a bit when drank, while too cold and the tannins in the wine can shine through too much.
The temperature in which red wine should be served can be subjective depending on your personal tastes, but in general 55-65 degrees is the sweet spot for red wine. This will allow the wine flavors to balance nicely without throwing off the taste.
We suggest serving something like our Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon at a temperature between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit to get the full flavor of the wine.
White Wine Service Temperature
Opposite of red wine, most people will tell you that white wine needs to be served chilled rather than at room temperature. And while this is true, there is also a sweet spot in terms of the best temperature for white wines.
Serving white wines between 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit will give you the best flavor profile possible for these types of wines. This is why it’s also important not to store your white wines in your traditional refrigerator.
Typical household refrigerators will keep your food at around 35-37 degrees. At this temperature your food is just warm enough to not freeze, but cool enough to keep it preserved for longer periods of time. The downside to this though is that your wine will also end up at those temperatures, which is a touch cooler than you’d like to serve it.
We suggest storing your white wine outside of the refrigerator and then placing in the fridge about 30 minutes or so before you intend to serve it. This will allow the temperature of the white wine to cool down without giving it a chance to reach the lowest point.
The exception to this is if you have a wine cooler/fridge. Wine coolers or wine refrigerators are specifically designed to keep your wines at a certain temperature. So you can set your wine cooler to hold at around 45 degrees and it will keep your white wine cool up until you serve it.
If your white wine gets too cold it can cause it to lose some of its flavor, while serving white wine warm will cause it to become dull.
So while it is true that red wine should be served warmer than white wine, it’s a common misconception that red wine should never be stored in any sort of cooler.
Wine flavor ultimately comes down to personal preference though. If you prefer your red wine served at a modern-day room temperature, then by all means go for it. And if you like your white wine as cold as you can possibly get it, more power to you. But if you’re looking for the winemaker’s intended flavor, then it’s important to serve your wine at the right temperature.
Do what makes you happy, but if you think your wine tastes different than usual, or maybe that bottle of wine you bought after having a glass at a nice restaurant isn’t how you remember, play around with the serving temperature. You’d be surprised at how a few degrees can change the flavor of your wine.