Wine Storage Best Practices & Mistakes To Avoid

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Close-up of wines stored horizontally in a wood wine rackModern-day wine storage draws on technology and specific equipment to ensure that wine is kept in peak condition. But it hasn’t always been so easy. Looking at wine storage history, we can see how some things have changed while others have stayed the same. As far back as ancient Roman times, the Romans kept their wine underground in the catacombs, where the air was cool and damp. Today many wine enthusiasts and winemakers also use underground spaces to store their wine, such as basements or other below-ground level spaces, though these are often much more modern and attractive than their Roman-era counterparts. 

You don’t need to have a monstrously large wine storage set-up or facility to keep your wines fresh and in peak condition. Whatever storage space you have, you’ll also have access to our wine storage best practice guide. Here are some dos and don’ts of wine storage for the modern-day.

Four Best Wine Storage Practices

Whether you have a full-size wine cellar or just a simple wine fridge, these are the best wine storage practices to put into play the next time you purchase a bottle.

Store Wine In A Cool Place

Storing wine in a cool place is vital. The number one way to ruin your wine is with heat. The best wine storage temperature is ideally between 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This is similar to white wine storage temperature, but white wine is generally served at a much cooler temperature than red wine. 

Avoid Temperature Swings

No matter where you store your wine,  you should avoid big temperature fluctuations. Too hot and your wine will spoil. Too cold, and your wine will freeze. A consistent and ideal wine storage temperature will ensure that your wine is kept in peak condition. If a bottle does experience a big change in temperature, it may be time to pop the cork and enjoy it.

Store Wine In A Dark Place

Wine cellars tend to be reserved for wine and not much else. Because of this, the lights will be off most of the time. Most modern wine fridges have glass fronts that also block light. 

Why must wine be kept in the dark? Light, especially sunlight, can age the wine. Most household lights don’t pose an issue, but they may cause wine labels to fade with overexposure. If you must have lighting in your wine storage space, opt for incandescent or LED bulbs.

Store Wine Sideways

Ever since wine has existed, bottles have traditionally been stored on their sides. The reasoning for storing wine horizontally is to keep the cork from drying out. Even if your  bottle has a screwcap, this is still the most space-efficient storage method. You can opt for a full-size wine rack for your basement, or a bar cabinet with wine storage.

Four Wine Storage Mistakes To Avoid

Now that you’ve learned the best practices for wine storage let’s dive into what you need to avoid to ensure that your wine is never spoiled or ruined.

Storing Wine In A Cold Place

Generally, wine should be stored in a cool place, but not cold. If you wish to store wine in your regular refrigerator, try to avoid keeping it there for very long. Most refrigerators are kept well below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigerators also lack the proper humidity and moisture that corks need. Dry corks mean air may seep into the bottles and damage the wine. If your wine is frozen, the liquid will turn to ice and could expand enough to push the cork out. For longer term storage, it's recommended to purchase a wine fridge where the temperature can be explicitly regulated for wine.

Storing Wine Near the Stove

If your kitchen is small or you don’t have the space for a wine fridge, you may resort to storing it on your kitchen counter. Keeping wine near the stove is a popular method, but this might be the worst thing you can do for your wine. Since the stove is the hottest place in the kitchen, the wine will “cook.” Even when wines reach over 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the flavor drastically changes. Storing your wine near a hot stove is the best way to turn your wine into vinegar. 

Storing Wine Near A Window

We’ve mentioned how the best wine storage practice is storing bottles in a dark space. Storing wine near a window might look nice, but the UV light can cause your wine to age prematurely. This is why most wines come in a dark bottle, but even just the heat from the sun can alter the flavor of your wine. Because of this, it’s recommended to avoid purchasing wine that has been sitting in a store’s window.

Drinking An Opened Bottle Too Slowly

Sometimes it’s impossible to finish a whole bottle of wine by yourself within a certain time. Sometimes you might only open a bottle of wine to use for cooking a meal. If you're not ready to drink the bottle, don’t open it and leave it for days on end. Once a bottle of wine has been opened, it will be drinkable for about one to two days. Sometimes it can stay good for longer if it’s a younger wine, but try to finish the bottle within a week of opening it. Storing opened wine in the refrigerator will also help it last longer by slowing down oxidation. If you don’t wish to drink it, use it for cooking.

Have Enough Storage Space? Collect More Bottles! 

Following these simple guidelines on how to best store your wine will enhance your wine drinking experience. So no matter where or how you choose to store your bottles of wine, there can always be room for more. If you’re looking to bolster your collection of wine and perfect your wine storage practices, visit JJ Buckley Fine Wines today. JJ Buckley Fine Wines has a great variety of premium wines from all regions to fit your needs.