How to Store Red Wine
In this post, we will learn how to store red wine the right way (based on scientific facts), I promise not to bore you either!
Wine constitutes about 17% of total alcohol sales in the USA. Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay are the most popular varieties. 90% of the total wine made in the USA is produced in none other than sunny California!
Italy is the number one producer of wine in the world, followed closely by France and Spain.
Each winery has it’s own secrets and every wine aficionado has unique (and often unusual) suggestions on how to consume, pair and store wine.
- In Italy, if you spill wine, you must dab a bit of it behind your ears to guard against bad luck.
- However, in Portugal, spilt wine is a symbol of prosperity, abundance and good luck!
Having said all that, there are some basics which simply cannot be ignored as they’re governed by science rather than superstition! So in this post, we will learn how to store red wine the right way (based on scientific facts)
How to Store Red Wine (Ideal Temperature)
- Almost all experts agree that the perfect temperature for ageing wine is 55 ° F (12.7 C).Red wine is usually stored and served at a slightly higher temperature compared to white wine.
- White wine may be stored and served at temperatures ranging from 45 to 55 ° F (7.2 to 12.7 C) while red wines are stored and served at 55 to 65° F (12.7 to 18.3° C)
Freezing temperatures can cause the wine to expand and contract – this can push the cork out and result in seepage of air into the bottle. If this happens, the wine spoils quickly.
High temperatures can cause a wine to age faster than desirable. Temperatures higher than 70° F can ‘cook’ a wine and result in dull flavors and aromas.
Frequent and sudden temperature swings are not great for the wine chemistry either – consistency is the name of the game!
Apart from temperature, other factors are also important.
The ideal humidity for storing red wine is about 70%. However, anything between 50 to 80% is quite alright unless you’re laying bottles down for more than a decade, in which case you’d better invest in a professional cellar. (Psst...more on this later)
Extremely dry environments are detrimental for storing wine.
The relationship between the cork and the wine is a very interesting one. The cork stops air from entering into the bottle and prevents the wine from being spoiled. The wine, in turn, keeps the cork moist and prevents it from drying out and contracting. Which is why corked bottles should always be placed on their side, so that the wine is constantly touching the cork. All this is true only for conventional wooden corks, not plastic ones.
Placing a pan of water near the wine storage area can help to improve the humidity.
Likewise, too much humidity will probably not damage the wine as long as it’s sealed properly.
However, remember that humidity promotes mold and it can cause the labels to become faded. Surely, you don’t want your precious collection to lose it’s sheen...
A dehumidifier can help to address high humidity if required.
UV light causes wine to age prematurely.
Fun fact: Wine bottles are tinted for a reason, to act as a barrier against harsh light. Think of the tinted bottles as being sunglasses for the wine inside!
Keep red wine in a dark place, away from direct Sunlight. Interior lights do not pose a significant threat to wine (unless very harsh) but remember that fluorescent bulbs do emit a very small amount UV rays and hence incandescent lights are always preferable.
Continuous vibrations can cause the sediment of wine to become disturbed and prevent it from settling. Nobody wants to open an expensive bottle of red wine with a gritty mouthfeel.
So, wine bottles should be kept as still as possible. Constant vibrations and movement are best avoided.
If you’ve read the above mentioned points carefully, you’ve probably made a few important realizations:
- If you’re serious about storing your red wine properly, you cannot store it in the refrigerator as the temperature is well below 55 F and the air is too dry.
- You cannot store it in the laundry room or in the kitchen as the temperature and humidity tend to fluctuate quite a bit.
- You cannot store wine outside, in places such as the verandah, courtyard, balcony etc. as it may get exposed to extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.
- The garage is probably a bad idea too unless you want the labels smelling of smoke and engine oil.
We know for a fact that the best way to store red wine is to build a professional cellar but it costs a fortune! 🙁
However, what if you could simulate the conditions of a wine cellar at a fraction of the cost?
A dedicated wine cooler or fridge maintains the perfect temperature, humidity and lighting to store both red and white wines. The glass panels are tinted to protect against UV ray damage.
What’s more, some of the entry-level wine coolers are very reasonably priced and offer a host of cool features!
Sure, you won’t be able to store hundreds or thousands of bottles in it but if you’re like most people, you probably want and need to store only a few bottles – maybe like 40 to 80...right?
The smallest wine coolers hold just about 6-7 bottles while the larger ones can do about 80 to 100 and sometimes, even more! There’s a wine cooler for almost every requirement and demand.
We have reviewed quite a few wine coolers to help you find the best one for your needs. Still, here are some things to consider before zeroing down on the perfect wine cooler:
- How many bottles do you need to store?
- Where do you want to place the wine cooler? If you’re looking for an under-the-counter solution, the cooler should have front vents. Or else, you may opt for a free-standing unit.
- Do you want to store red wine only or does your collection include a few white wines too? If yes, you should opt for dual zone cooling as reds and whites are stored and served at different temperatures.
- Do you want to make a great impression on your guests? Choose a wine cooler that's congruent with the look and feel of your decor.
Usually, thermoelectric coolers make fewer vibrations as they have no moving parts (except fans to distribute temperature evenly). Still, compressor cooled units are usually more powerful, even though they can be a tad noisier than their thermoelectric counterparts.
You now have all the information you need to store red wine perfectly and preserve all it’s aromas and enjoy it to it’s full potential.
Do remember to enjoy wine responsibly 🙂