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Storing Bottles

Whether you’re aging bottles in a cellar for years, storing a few ready-to-drink bottles for a month or two, or planning to finish a bottle later in the week, proper storage is key.

"It's not 'room temperature' for reds — it's cellar temperature."
— John Sarich

Short & Long-Term Wine Storage

They say patience is a virtue. And with wine storage, they might be right. Many wines will only reach their full potential after multiple years spent in the bottle. Proper storage of wine will help ensure that your collection continues to grow in complexity and value into the coming years. Taking these four factors into account will help ensure the continued preservation of your collection:

  • Temperature — The ideal temperature for storing wine is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Light — Wine should be aged in a dark place. Direct sunlight, and even prolonged exposure to artificial light, can damage wine.
  • Humidity — Ambient humidity must be maintained between 60 and 80 percent.
  • Orientation — Bottles should be stored on their sides, to keep their corks from drying out.

Storing Open Wine

When it comes to opened wines, following a few simple storage techniques can keep them tasting fresher longer:

  • Temperature — Like cellared wines, open wines — both whites and reds — should be stored between 50 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Reds should be allowed to warm up for about an hour before serving.
  • Oxygen — It’s important to reduce the amount of oxygen that has been introduced into the bottle. Vacuum plugs work better than corks — simply stick one in and use the plastic pump to extract the air. (For sparkling wines, use a latching stopper to trap bubbles in.)
    • The amount of oxidation can be reduced further by combining a vacuum cork with a decreased surface area.

How long does opened wine last? If properly stored, your open wines can last from 1 to 7 days, depending on the variety. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Champagne and sparkling wine: 1 to 3 days
  • Light whites: 7 days
  • Full-bodied whites: 3 to 5 days
  • Aromatic whites and rosés: 7 days
  • Red wine: 3 to 5 days

Serving Temperature

Temperature plays a huge part in how different varietals and styles of wine taste and smell. Issues of temperature affect red and white wines differently. Here are the ideal serving temperatures for each color:

  • Champagne and sparkling: 43–50 °F
  • Light whites and rosés: 45–50 °F
  • Heavy whites and light reds: 50–55 °F
  • Medium-bodied reds: 55 °F
  • Full-bodied and aged reds: 59–64 °F
  • Sweet Madeira and vintage port: 64–68 °F

Expert Tip: How to Chill a Bottle of Wine Quickly

A customer wants a cold bottle of wine — and fast? Put the bottle in a bucket, then fill with water and ice to make an "ice bath." Add a tablespoon of salt to lower the freezing point of the water and help it cool faster. Spin and invert the bottle every few minutes to help the wine cool evenly. In about 20 minutes you'll have ice-cold wine.

Fun Fact

Did you know there were wine cellars under the Brooklyn Bridge? After the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, vaults located under the ramps leading up to its anchorages were rented out as cellars to private citizens. It helped to offset bridge construction costs. These subterranean chambers stayed a steady 60 degrees Fahrenheit, making them ideal for storing wine and spirits. Although closed to the public, a photographer once captured a fading Pol Roger Champagne house insignia on the back wall of the cellar — the last remnant of its colorful history.