For anyone who’s never stored wine before, keeping wine at home can be confusing. Do you place it on the counter where it is room temperature, or do you refrigerate wine? What about opened wine? What’s the best way to store an open bottle?
If you’ve ever asked these questions or you simply want to truly enjoy the true aromas and flavors of the wine you just bought, this guide will help you store your bottles.
This guide will answer the question: Do you refrigerate wine? Because beginner wine collectors or even those who’ve been enjoying wine for a long time still can’t answer this correctly.
So without further adieu, let’s begin our guide to storing opened wine.
Do you Refrigerate Wine?
The answer is yes! You should refrigerate your wine, whether it’s red or white. But, there are many factors that need to be considered, such as how long to keep your wine inside the fridge, and how to refrigerate the wine.
It all depends on the type of wine you have because different wines require different temperatures due to their different chemical compositions. Yes, how and how long you can refrigerate your wine will depend on whether you have a Pinot Noir, Rose, Port, and so on.
But before we get right to it, let’s discuss why refrigeration is needed. You would need to understand why you have to properly store your wine to be able to preserve its authentic flavor and aroma.
Otherwise, storing wine the wrong way can ruin a perfectly delicious and expensive bottle.
Wine and Oxygen
Wine is very sensitive to its external environment. Its three biggest enemies are heat, light, and oxygen. In fact, too much exposure to oxygen can turn any wine into vinegar. When this happens, it’s defined as wine turning “flat.” It will no longer be good enough to drink, but most people still keep it for cooking.
When it comes to opened wine, the key to preserving it and keeping it fresh is to keep as much oxygen away from the remaining wine. You can do this by storing it in a place with a cool temperature to slow down the oxidation process that occurs once you open a bottle of wine.
This means that refrigerating wine is the best way to reduce or slow the oxidation process when you don’t have a wine cellar or a wine refrigerator at home.
How to Chill Wine
Different types of wine require different kinds of serving. The prevailing wisdom when it comes to red wine has always been serving it at room temperature. Most people balk at the idea of chilling red wine as they believe it ruins the authentic aromas and flavors of the tannins found in red wine.
However, there are many instances when the room temperature is too warm for red wine to be served. The truth is, room temperature is not always the best way to serve red wine. The best way to serve it is a little cooler than room temperature.
Red wine that’s served in a warm environment can taste too alcoholic and flabby. To help you with the right temperature for serving wine, here is a guide on the perfect temperature to serving different kinds of wine, and some tips on chilling these bottles before serving.
How to Serve Red Wine
- Full-Bodied Reds [Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec] at 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fortified Reds [Marsala, Port, Madeira] at 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Light Bodied Reds [Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Gamay] at 55 degrees Fahrenheit
For full-bodied and fortified wine, chill in the refrigerator for at least 90 minutes, open the bottle, and let it warm up for 10 minutes before serving.
For lighter-bodied red wine, chill in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes, open, let it warm for 10 minutes, and serve.
How to Serve White Wine, Sparkling Wine, and Rose’
These types of wines are best served chilled. Unlike red wine that’s best served just a little cooler than room temperature, these types of wines actually need to be chilled to punctuate their delicate acidity aromas and crisp flavors.
- Fuller Bodied Wines such as Oak Chardonnay is best served at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dessert Wines are also best served at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Light or Drier Wines [Pinot Grigo and Sauvignon Blanc] at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bubbly Wine is best served at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This cool temperature keeps the carbon dioxide in bubble wine intact and prevents the bottle from popping open unexpectedly.
To chill white wine, rose, or sparkling wine, chill in the fridge for 2 hours, remove the bottle from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
Do You Refrigerate Wine After Opening It?
We’ve talked about how a wine cellar or wine refrigerator is the best environment to store wine. But, if you don’t have either, a fridge will do, or a place where there is enough humidity, the right temperature, and a place that’s devoid of direct sunlight or any form of light.
But how about open wine bottles? Finishing a bottle of wine is not always the case for most people. For many wine drinkers, opening a bottle of wine and drinking one or two glasses is enough. Which leaves plenty of wine in the bottle.
Should you refrigerate this remaining wine? The answer is yes, you should refrigerate open wine to preserve it.
However, wine does not last long in the fridge. In fact, you shouldn’t store them in your kitchen refrigerator for more than a few days. Yes, unfortunately, they do change aromas, flavors, and colors when you leave them in the fridge for more than a few days, with the exception of fortified wine.
If you’re really serious about collecting and keeping wine, you should invest in a wine cellar or a wine refrigerator. A wine refrigerator is designed to create the optimal environment for wine, such as having the right humidity and the right temperature.
Unfortunately, a kitchen fridge is too cold to keep wine for the long term. And, it also creates a very dry environment for your wine, which can cause havoc on the cork, making it dry, shrinking it, and letting oxygen in, which ruins your opened wine.
To help you determine how many days you can keep opened wine inside your kitchen fridge, here is a guide to the different kinds of wine and who many days you can keep it staying fresh and good inside:
- Sparkling wine – 1 to 2 days
- Full-bodied white wine – 3 to 5 days
- Light wine and rose wine – 3 to 5 days
- Red wine – 3 to 5 days
- Fortified wine – up to 30 days
While this is a guide to how long you can keep your opened bottle of wine in a kitchen fridge, freshness still depends on many factors. You might taste a bottle of red wine after 4 days and it smells like vinegar, or a bottle of white wine may look golden instead of transparent or slightly cream in color.
To help you determine if your bottle of wine is still good, or if it’s gone bad, the next part of this guide will talk about knowing how to tell if the wine has gone bad.
How to Tell If Your Opened Wine Has Gone Bad
Whether you store your opened bottle of wine in the fridge, in a cellar, or inside a cupboard, this guide will help you determine if the wine is good enough to drink, or better left in the trash.
- If red wine smells flat, or vinegary. This means that there are bacteria inside the wine, and it has converted into acetic acid. If its color has also turned brownish, it’s better to throw it out than to pour yourself a glass.
- If white wine turns golden, it may not be good enough to drink.
- If you open the bottle and the fruity aromas and flavors have become dull, then the wine has gone bad.
- If the cork has shrunk, such as when it looks slightly pushed out or pushed in, the probability of high oxygen exposure is likely, which can bring about bacteria and chemical changes in the wine. Therefore, it is best to take a sip before pouring yourself or anyone else a glass to ensure flavor and freshness.
- If it tastes fizzy and it’s not sparkling wine. This means that the wine has undergone a second phase of fermentation, and has most likely gone sour and therefore, not drinkable.
How to Store Opened Wine
Now that you know you can store wine in a kitchen fridge, there are things you need to know about storing it.
If you don’t want to store it inside a refrigerator, you can opt for a place where it’s dark, has about 60% humidity, with a temperature of about 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, has no direct sunlight or any light source of that matter, as well as no vibration, then that is the best place to store your wine.
You should store wine in the fridge horizontally, in other words, on its side. This is done to keep the cork moist at all times. Remember that the environment inside a kitchen fridge is dry, which means there’s no humidity. And wine needs humidity for the cork to stay moist.
Dry cork can shrink, welcoming oxygen and prematurely aging your wine, even if it’s only been there for 1 to 2 days.
If you have smaller bottles, transfer the remains of an opened bottle inside. The smaller space inside the bottle, the less oxygen exposure your wine will have. Storing it on its side can increase the space for oxygen, and thus, transferring it to a smaller bottle and storing it on its side, are ideal ways to make opened wine last longer.
Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Opened Wine
Wine is very delicate and sensitive, as you already know. That’s why storing your opened bottle is key to making it last, as well as getting the best value for your money. After all, good wine is expensive, and you wouldn’t want to waste a good bottle away just because you don’t know how to store it, or you made a simple mistake that could’ve been avoided.
So here are some do’s and don’t’s of storing opened red wine, making them fresher for longer.
- Do refrigerate your win in the fridge once you’ve opened it. Remember that cooler temperatures can slow down the oxidation process. It doesn’t stop it, though, so always remember they’re only good inside your kitchen fridge for a few days.
- Do place them on the backside of your fridge. If you open your fridge a lot, they will be more exposed to light and oxygen. To prevent this, place them at the back of the fridge or any area of the fridge where they are not constantly exposed to the elements.
- Do sore them where you can see them. You might forget your wine if you store them in a place where you can’t have easy access to them. Remember that open wine can only be good for a few days after opening unless you have a wine refrigerator or a wine cellar.
- Do not place your wine near the fridge’s motor. This is because the motor can cause your bottle of wine to vibrate, which means more oxygen can get inside your bottle, and defeat the purpose of placing it in the fridge in the first place.
- Do not place your wine on top of the fridge. Your kitchen fridge gives off heat and vibrations, which are some of wine’s biggest enemies. Also, by placing your bottle on top of a tall fridge, they’re also very close to light sources, which can also emit heat, oxidizing your wine faster.
- Do not keep your wine in your fridge for the long term. Keep in mind that they will only stay fresh for about 2 to 5 days. If you plan on storing your wine for longer, you must prepare a storage area where they can have the best environment for long-term storage.
If you plan on collecting wine, investing in a good wine refrigerator or building a wine cellar are the best options.
A perfectly good and expensive wine can go bad in days if you don’t store it properly. Refrigerating any kind of wine, whether it’s rose, white wine, or red wine is key to storing it for consumption within a few days.
However, a kitchen fridge is not an ideal long-term storage space for wine. A refrigerator can only hold your wine for 2 to 5 days at most. By keeping it on its side, placing it at the back of our fridge, and making sure the cork is securely re-sealed, you can expect your opened wine to stay fresh and delicious for a few days.
If you plan on storing open wine for longer than a few days, a wine refrigerator or a wine cellar storage is more ideal.