Storing Wine

Cold and hot temperatures threaten the taste of wine. Cold temperatures slow the rate of fermentation, and extremely cold air increases the astringency of red wines high in tannic acid.

Best Locations. Store wine in a cold place, such as a cellar, a closet, or an unused cupboard.

Avoid High Places. Don't keep wine on the top shelf, because heat rises. Wines stored in warmish air mature too quickly and do not keep long.

Champagne in the Refrigerator. White wine, rose, sparkling wine, and dessert wine lose flavor and bouquet when stored in a refrigerator, but the taste is enhanced when they are chilled in a refrigerator for several hours. Avoid storing them in a refrigerator for too long. After five days, the cold refrigerator temperatures will slow the action of the bubbles.

Temperature Changes. Changes in temperature also affect wine, so don't store it in an area where the temperature fluctuates. Sudden changes in temperature accelerate aging.

Wine Storage Temperature. In general, white wine, rose, and sparkling wine are stored at cooler temperatures than red wines. Wine stored in a house where the ambient temperature is 68 to 70°F (20 to 21°C) keeps for several months.

Humidity. The humidity level for wine storage is a minimum 74 percent and a maximum 95 percent. To promote humidity, place a damp sponge on a saucer. Humidity above 95 percent encourages mold.

Keep Bottles Horizontal. Store wine bottles horizontally. The position keeps the corks moist. They swell and prevent air and bacteria from entering the bottles.

Vibration. Wine breathes in the bottle; vibrations travel through wine and promote an unpleasant taste. Repeated vibrations foster wine lees, dead yeast cells left after fermentation that rise in the bottle and promote a sour taste. To reduce vibrations, allow space between the storage of bottles.

Odor. Wine is susceptible to odors. To promote taste, keep storage areas free of odor-producing elements.

Light. Sunshine or ultraviolet light foster wine with a musty or flat flavor; incandescent light is recommended in a storage area.