What Is the Best Way to Store Wine?

Most wines are going to be enjoyed as a bottle, shared with friends, so leftovers tend to be rare. If you’re flying solo and don’t feel like finishing the entire bottle on your own, however, you’re left with a bit of a problem. How do you store the wine so that it can still retain its vivid flavor profile? Or how can you let your wine mature so it reaches its expected flavor profile?

Most wine the average consumer will purchase today should be consumed within a few years of its creation. Only a very small handful of wines benefit from long-term aging. This advice is not intended for these investment-grade bottles. Use these tips for that affordable bottle of wine you purchased to have with a meal in the near future.

  1. Make sure your environment is cool.

Heat will always spoil a good wine. Any time the temperature is above 70F, the wine will age prematurely. If the temperature rises above 80F, then you risk cooking the wine and that will kill its flavor altogether. A great temperature is about 55F, but anything below 65F is better than nothing. There really isn’t an exact science here since each wine has its own character, but keep it cool and the wine will store better.

  1. Prevent your environment from becoming cold.

If you are storing some leftover wine in your refrigerator, then stop it right now. Wine stores well only at temperatures that are above 45F., anything cooler than that will damage the wine. Even if you’ve got a rubber stopper in your bottle, the air can seep into the bottle and cause a lot of damage. If you still have the wine corked,  the lack of moisture in your fridge will dry out the cork and leave you with a mess when you stick a corkscrew into it. Avoid placing wine in locations where it could freeze as well because frozen wine expands, pushes corks out, and even breaks bottles.

  1. Keep your wine in just one location.

Unless you plan to drink a particular bottle of wine in the near future, you shouldn’t move it from place to place. Although some wines do need to be rotated from time to time, the average bottle of wine prefers to have a consistently cool temperature without a lot of movement. A few minor temperature changes, like those that occur in a basement or cellar, for example, aren’t going to be problematic for your wine.

If you do not have a storage location that can keep wine at a relatively stable temperature, then investing into a wine cooler makes a lot of sense. There are portable, counter top, and full-sized solutions available in today’s market so you can store as much wine as you want without compromising its flavor profile.

  1. Stop giving it light.

Light prematurely ages wine. It is particularly problematic when it comes from a UV source, like sunlight. Colored glass bottles help to keep some of the UV light away from the wine, but they can’t do the work all on their own. Keep your wine away from any fluorescent lights you may have around to avoid having the wine age prematurely.

  1. Keep it sideways.

The average store places wine in an upright position to make it easier to grab as you shop. That’s not the best way to store wine. Wine actually does better if it is on its side if the bottle hasn’t been opened because this helps to prevent the cork from drying out prematurely. If you’re using a replacement cork this isn’t necessary. Placing wine on its side also helps stack more wine bottles together in one location and that’s never a bad thing either.

  1. Leftovers stay in the bottle.

Don’t be tempted by the idea that you should just pour out your wine from the bottle if you have some extra remaining. Although red wine does do well in a decanter over a period of several hours, no wine can survive overnight when it is exposed to air. The alcohol evaporates a little, the flavor profile flattens somewhat, and carbonated wines lose their bubbles. Your best bet is to always leave any leftover wine in the bottle, even if you don’t have a stopper, to enjoy the next day.

The best way to store wine is not your home’s refrigerator. A wine cooler, the basement, a cellar, or another cool area is always a better location – even if you’ve already opened the bottle. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to enjoy better tasting wine every day.