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Wine Care 101: How to Store Wine and When to Drink It

Are you familiar with how to store wine, care for it once it’s been opened, and when to drink it? Today, Caves Wine Shop goes over top wine care tips you have to know. Continue reading to learn all about how to properly store wine, why that’s important, and when to know when to drink a wine. Hot tip: not all wine should be aged. 

How Do You Store Wine? 

Proper wine storage techniques are key to maintaining the quality and complexity of your wine. When storing wine, it’s important to consider the type of wine you’re looking to store as well as how long you plan on keeping it in storage. Remember some wines are meant to be consumed soon after purchased, whereas others can age for several years or longer. 

Here are some tips on how to store wine: 

  • Store wine away from light as ultraviolet rays can alter a wine’s flavor
  • Look for a cool, dark, and humid place with a stable wine temperature of 45 to 65°F (7 to 18 °C) and a humidity level of around 70%.
  • Place your wine bottles in storage horizontally to allow the cork to remain moist. 
  • Store wines that are meant to be enjoyed over time in a wine cellar or cooler to help the flavors develop over time. 

By taking the necessary steps to maintain your wines’ flavors and quality, you can ensure your wine will taste its best when you're ready to enjoy it. 

Why Is Wine Storage Important?

Storing wine properly is important as it helps maintain the wine’s flavor and quality over time, so you can enjoy it more. This also ensures your wine doesn’t spoil or get overoxidized, making it sour, which could destroy your wine. 

How Not to Store Wine: 3 Tips You Should Know

To keep wine fresh, here are 3 things you should avoid doing: 

Expose Wine to Light 

Exposure to sunlight can cause wine to age prematurely and develop off-flavors. Ultraviolet rays can break down the chemical compounds in wine, leading to a loss of flavor and aroma over time. Store wine in a cool, dark, and humid place away from sunlight. 

Leave Wine Bottles Upright

Storing wine bottles upright can cause the cork to dry out, which can lead to air exposure and oxidation (when oxygen gets into the wine). This can cause the wine to spoil. Keep wine horizontally so that the cork can stay moist and to prevent air from getting into the bottle. 

Keep Wine at High Temperatures

High temperatures can cause wine to spoil and go bad. When wine is stored at temperatures above 70°F (21°C), it can age too quickly and throw the flavor off.  To keep wine fresh, store it at a consistent temperature between 45 to 65°F (7 to 18°C).

Choosing the Right Location for Wine Storage

When selecting the right location for wine storage consider the following factors: 

  • Temperature (aim for 45 to 65°F).
  • Humidity (aim for 70%).
  • Light (keep it away from direct sunlight).
  • Vibration (this can disturb the sediment in the wine).
  • Space (you need enough space to store wine horizontally).
  • Security (you may want to install a security system if you own lots of valuable wine bottles).


How to Store Opened Bottles of Wine


To preserve the flavor of wine and extend its shelf life consider doing the following:


  • Recork the bottle (tightly).
  • Store white wine, sparkling wine, and rose in the fridge after opening.
  • Store red wines in a cool, dark place after opening. 
  • Use a wine preserver such as a vacuum pump. 
  • Use leftover wine for cooking or invite a friend over to help you finish the bottle.


Checking on Your Wine: How to Monitor for Spoilage and Aging


One of the easiest ways to determine if a wine has gone bad is to use your senses. Be sure to smell it. If the wine smells musty, old, or like vinegar, then it has been spoiled. If the wine smells fine but you’re not sure if it’s okay to drink it, take a small sip. If it tastes off or like vinegar, then it’s gone bad. 


You also want to look out for discoloration and an extra amount of sediment on the bottom of the bottle. Be sure to check the cork too. if it smells old or moldy, then the wine isn’t good to drink anymore.  


How Long Should You Wait Before Drinking Wine?


How long you should wait before drinking wine depends on the type and style of wine. Some wines are meant to be enjoyed young, while others get better and more flavorful with age. Here are some general guidelines on how long you should wait before drinking a bottle of wine: 


Red Wines


Full-bodied reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, do benefit from aging in the bottle for several years. However, do keep in mind that not all reds are meant for aging, and some should be consumed within a year or two after purchasing.  


White Wines


Most white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay, are best enjoyed within a year of their release. However, some full-bodied white wines can benefit from aging for several years. 


Sparkling Wines


Champagne and Prosecco are not meant to be aged and are best consumed within a year or two of their release. 


Sweet Wines


Some sweet wines, like Rieslings, can benefit from aging for several years or decades before enjoying. 


If you have additional questions about aging and storing wines, stay in touch with us online. We even offer a wine club for wine enthusiasts looking to expand their wine knowledge. 


Understanding Wine Aging: How Wine Can Change Over Time


Is it True That All Wine Gets Better with Age?


It's important to note that while some wines develop more flavor and complexity over time, not all wines do. Some may even degrade over time. To determine if a wine is meant for aging, be sure to read the label and speak to a wine expert if you need more advice. 


Assessing the Age of a Wine: How to Tell if it’s Ready to Drink


Knowing when a wine is ready to be enjoyed depends on a variety of factors including but not limited to the following: 

  • Vintage (some wines need to be aged).
  • Grape variety (different grapes have different aging potential).
  • Color (as wines age and go bad they can lose their original color).
  • Taste (wine should taste well balanced, with complex flavors, and a nice finish).
  • Smell (as some wines age they develop more aromas, such as ripe fruit, herbs, and spices).


How to Find the Right Moment to Enjoy Your Wine

Determining when to enjoy a bottle of wine is a personal preference. Some people enjoy the taste of young, vibrant wines, while others prefer an aged vintage. Familiarizing yourself with different wines and grape varieties will help you figure out your own preferences and what works best for you. 


Are you passionate about wine? Check out our top-shelf wine selections – perfect for a special occasion.