Red wines tend to be the favorite of wine collectors. With proper storage, red wines can age beautifully, enhancing the aromas and flavors. If you have the diligence and patience to store your red wines properly, the reward is great. However, improper wine storage can ruin what would have been a spectacular red. If you’re considering aging and storing red wines in your home, make sure you’re taking all of the steps for appropriate storage. Here is our must-read guide on how to store red wine.
Don’t Cook Your Wine
Keeping your red wine at the proper temperature is integral. Once a wine reaches 80°F, it will begin to “cook,” which means that the chemical reactions will speed up, prematurely aging the wine. Store your wine in a cool, dark place to prevent it from premature aging. A temperature around 55°F is considered ideal for most wines.
When choosing a location to properly store red wine, choose a place with a consistent temperature like a cellar or wine cooler. Temperature fluctuations can be just as dangerous as high temperatures. Properly storing red wine means avoiding temperature fluctuations greater than 5°F per day and 5°F per year.
When the temperature changes, it affects the cork. Warmer temperatures will cause the wine and air bottle to warm and expand. The expanded contents will press against the cork, which will either cause the cork to shift or it will seep past it. When the air cools back down, the bottle and its contents will contract. This draws harmful oxygen back into the bottle, which will prematurely age your wine.
Red wines are more prone to temperature damage than white wines, so it is incredibly important to keep your wines at the proper temperature if you want them to age correctly. Consider one of our dual-zone wine coolers to keep all of your wines stored at their ideal temperatures.
Store Your Bottles on Their Sides
Although many places keep their wine bottles upright, wines actually do best when stored on their sides. By storing wine bottles on their side, it ensures that the wine is kept in contact with the cork, which keeps it moist. A dry cork can contract and allow oxygen to seep in and damage your wine.
A Little Humidity Is Good
A semi-humid environment is actually desirable for your red wines. Aim for a humidity level of 60 to 80%, which keeps the air moist but not too much so. If the air around your wine is too dry, it can cause your corks to dry out even if your bottles are stored on their side. Higher-humidity environments ensure that your corks will remain moist, keeping air out of your wine.
There’s no threat to your wine if you store your bottles in a more humid environment than 80%. However, high humidity can facilitate the growth of mold or mildew that can damage your storage area or wine labels.
Keep It in the Dark
The best place to properly store red wine is in the dark. Direct sunlight is particularly harmful to wine. Light, especially at low wavelengths, can break down the complex molecules that give wine its unique flavors. Dark-colored glass helps protect your wine from most light, but it is still best to store your bottles in a dark place. At the very least, keep them away from direct sunlight.
Some experts believe that vibrations can damage your wine by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. While there is no hard evidence that minor vibrations will ruin your wines, it is still best to store your wine in a stable location. Once you store it, try to avoid moving it until you’re going to drink it. If you’re concerned about how vibrations could affect your wine, look for a KingsBottle wine storage solution that is vibration free.
Keep Odors Out
Be sure to keep your wine stored in a well-ventilated area. Strong odors can actually permeate your wine if they’re stored in the same space: the compounds can get into your wine through the cork and contaminate the flavors. In particular, it’s very important to keep things like solvents (for example, paint and cleaning solutions) and strong-smelling foods away from your wine.
Storing Reds vs. Storing Whites
To understand how to store red wines, you need to learn the small but pivotal differences between storing red wine properly and storing white wine properly.
Unlike white wines, most red wines can benefit from some aging, and some red wines can benefit from a lot of aging. While the appropriate amount of time to age a wine does vary, there are some rules of thumb for different varieties:
- Cabernet: 10 to 15 years
- Merlot: 4 to 7 years
- Nebbiolo: 10 years or more
- Pinot Noir: about 5 years to start
The best way to find out how long to age a red wine is to do your research. Certain red wines like French Bordeaux can taste best after aging for more than 30 years.
Red wines do best in a slightly warmer environment compared with white wines. While the humidity can be the same, red wines should be stored between 52 and 58°F. If you’re storing your wines in a cellar, store your reds closer to the top of the room since heat rises.
It can be a little tricky to learn how to store red wines, but the benefits of a properly aged wine are great. With some diligence, you can construct the perfect environment for storing your collection of fine wines. If you need a little help getting started, Kings Bottle offers the highest-quality wine cooler selection on the market. With our wine coolers and your wine collection, you’ll be aging your reds to perfection in no time.