Wine Preservation 101: How to Store & Age Wine

Storing and aging wine properly is essential for preserving its quality and allowing it to develop complex flavors over time.

Before going into the details of wine preservation, let's go over the basics of what makes wine go bad in the first place.

Why Does Wine Go Bad?

For the most part, improper storage is to be blamed for the majority of wines going bad. Improper storage procedures generally contribute to over-exposure to heat, humidity, light, or vibration, which cause unwanted chemical reactions in the wine.

One easy way to check if your wine has gone bad is by giving it a quick smell looking for any hint of sour smells. There are a few other ways to tell if your wine has gone bad, but the point is, if you collect or enjoy wine, you will want to make sure you are properly storing your wine to avoid the same fate.

Now that we understand what makes a wine go bad, let's talk about each type of wine before storing it.

What You Need To Know About Each Type Of Wine Before Storing it

Understanding wine goes beyond opening a bottle.

Cheap wines, mass-produced and meant for immediate consumption, lack complexity and don't age well. In contrast, fine wines are carefully crafted, sourced from prestigious regions, and can develop with aging.

Each wine has a lifespan—cheap wines should be enjoyed within a few years, losing freshness over time, while full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon can evolve for decades. However, not all vintages age equally well. Before storing any wine, research its recommended aging potential on the label or reliable sources. Knowing a wine's lifespan helps make informed decisions on when to enjoy it.

Now let's delve into the main types of wine:

Red Wine

Red wines are known for their bold flavors and ability to age gracefully. Certain types of red wine can be aged for just three to five years, while others can remain in a cellar for decades. The best red wines can even be stored for more than 100 years, although most great wines will reach their peak before they turn 50 years old. The reason why red wines tend to age well is that they are fermented with their skins, allowing the tannins and acidity present in the skins to contribute to the wine's structure and ability to develop complex flavors over time.

Some of the best wines to age include Bordeaux blends, such as those from Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Margaux, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from top regions like Napa Valley and Tuscany. These wines often exhibit robust tannins, balanced acidity, and a high concentration of flavors, which can evolve and integrate beautifully with aging.

White Wine

Unlike red wines, white wines generally do not age as long. They are best enjoyed within two to three years of bottling. Over time, white wines will turn darker, transitioning from a vibrant yellow to a golden-brown hue. It's important to note that white wines should be consumed relatively young to fully appreciate their fresh and fruity characteristics.

While there are exceptions, most white wines do not benefit from long-term cellaring. Examples of white wines that can age well include some high-quality Chardonnays from Burgundy, Rieslings from Germany's Mosel region, and Sauternes from Bordeaux. These wines have the potential to develop rich and complex flavors, showcasing layers of honey, toast, and stone fruit with age.

Rose Wine

Rosé wines are typically produced for ultimate freshness and are not intended for long-term aging. It is recommended to consume rosé within two years of the vintage. These wines are often made from red grape varietals, but the skins are in contact with the juice for a shorter period, resulting in a lighter color and less tannin extraction.

Rosé wines are generally picked early, fermented at cooler temperatures with commercial yeast, and aged in stainless steel vats to preserve their delicate and refreshing character. Their vibrant acidity and fruity flavors are meant to be enjoyed in their youth, making them perfect for warm-weather sipping and casual occasions.

How To Store Unopened Wine

Proper storage of unopened wine is essential to preserve its quality and ensure that it reaches its full potential when opened. Whether you're planning to keep a bottle for a special occasion or building a collection, here are some key tips on how to store unopened wine:

Proper & Steady Temperature

One of the key factors in storing unopened wine is maintaining a proper and steady temperature. Different types of wine have specific temperature ranges that are recommended to preserve their quality and allow them to age gracefully.

Red Wine: For most red wines, a temperature range of 55°F (13°C) to 65°F (18°C) is considered ideal.

White Wine: White wines are generally more delicate and should be stored at cooler temperatures compared to reds. A range of 45°F (7°C) to 55°F (13°C) is recommended for most white wines.

Rosé Wine: Like white wines, rosé wines also benefit from cooler storage temperatures. Aim for a range of 45°F (7°C) to 55°F (13°C).

It's important to note that maintaining a steady and continuous temperature is vital for proper wine storage. Normal household refrigerators, although commonly used for short-term wine storage, are not ideal for long-term aging. They often experience temperature drops when the compressor cycles on and off, leading to temperature swings. These fluctuations can negatively impact the quality and aging process of the wine.

To ensure a steady temperature, it's recommended to invest in a wine refrigerator or cellar specifically designed for wine storage. These units provide consistent temperature control, humidity regulation, and protection from light, making them ideal for long-term wine storage.

Proper Humidity

One of the most common storage issues is when people store their wine in an area with low humidity. Kitchen fridges and storage in drier desert heat can both be incredibly detrimental to your wine.

Wine needs a fairly high level of humidity to maintain its flavor and smell, and the moisture in the air helps the cork retain its structure, so if you live in a dry climate it's important to keep your wine in a somewhat humid environment. Wine bottles should be kept in a relatively closed-off space so that the humidity isn't susceptible to fluctuations.

Wine bottles should ideally be kept at between 70 and 80 percent humidity to maintain their flavor.

Most higher-end wine coolers, as in any that cost more than $500 - $600, have integrated humidity and climate control. These coolers will allow you to store your wine at the proper humidity. This is another reason not to cheap out on your wine fridge, as most "Amazon-bought" $300-500 dollar units DO NOT have humidity control and are just glorified refrigerators, which, as we will explain shortly, will actually ruin your wines if left over time.

Store Your Wine Horizontally

One of the most important rules of proper wine preservation is to store your wines horizontally. Wine stored on its side allows for the cork to remain moist, which will prevent air from entering the bottle. If the cork dries, it will allow oxygen in that will quickly degrade your wine. This is usually a big problem with older bottles stored vertically in non-humidity controlled environments, as their corks dry FAST.

Avoid Light

Whether it's white wine, red wine, or fine wine, your wine bottles should always be stored away from light. The UV rays from direct sunlight can degrade your wine’s flavor & aroma rapidly. This phenomenon is called Light Strike.

Light strike can ruin wine stored in clear bottles in as little as 3 hours (ever wonder why wine is stored in tinted glass? It's like sunglasses for your wine 😎).

When wine bottles get flooded by UV rays or fluorescent light, the amino acids in wine that give it its distinct taste turn into foul-smelling compounds. So store your wine far from light!

Avoid Shaking

To maintain the quality of unopened wine, it's crucial to avoid shaking the bottle. Shaking can disturb the sediments present in the wine, affecting its taste and texture. Handle the bottle with care, minimizing unnecessary movement to preserve its intended flavors and aromas.

Use a Wine Cellar or Wine Cooler

After opening a bottle of wine, resealing it properly is crucial to slow down the oxidation process. Insert the original cork back into the bottle, ensuring a tight fit. If the cork is damaged or lost, you can use a wine stopper or airtight closure designed specifically for wine bottles. This helps to minimize the wine's exposure to air and maintain its integrity for a longer period.

Tips for Storing Opened Wine

Once a bottle of wine is opened, its exposure to oxygen begins to affect its flavor and freshness. The lifespan of opened wine varies based on the type of wine, ranging from a couple of days to several weeks. Here are some general benchmarks for how long you can expect opened wine to last:

- Red Wine: Typically, opened red wine can be enjoyed for about 2 to 5 days after opening, depending on the wine's quality, tannin levels, and age.

- White Wine: Opened white wine tends to have a slightly shorter lifespan and can remain fresh for about 3 to 7 days, depending on factors such as acidity, sweetness, and the presence of oak aging.

- Rosé Wine: Similar to white wines, opened rosé wine is best consumed within 3 to 5 days to retain its fruity and refreshing qualities.

To maximize the lifespan of opened wine and preserve its flavor and aroma, here are some tips for storing opened wine:

Cork it

After opening a bottle of wine, resealing it properly is crucial to slow down the oxidation process. Insert the original cork back into the bottle, ensuring a tight fit. If the cork is damaged or lost, you can use a wine stopper or airtight closure designed specifically for wine bottles. This helps to minimize the wine's exposure to air and maintain its integrity for a longer period.

Store it upright

When it comes to storing opened wine, storing it upright is recommended. Unlike unopened wine, the goal here is to minimize the wine's contact with the air. Storing the bottle upright reduces the surface area of wine exposed to oxygen, slowing down the oxidation process and helping to retain its freshness. However, keep in mind that storing sparkling wines with a cork upright for an extended period may cause them to lose their effervescence.

Store in a cold, dark place

To further extend the life of opened wine, it's essential to store it in a cool and dark environment. High temperatures and exposure to light can accelerate the oxidation process and negatively impact the wine's quality. Choose a location away from direct sunlight and heat sources, such as a pantry, wine refrigerator, or cellar. The cooler and more stable the storage conditions, the better the wine will retain its flavors and aromas.

Things to consider before buying a wine cooler

Before purchasing a wine cooler, there are a few key factors to consider:

Capacity and Size:

Determine the number of wine bottles you need to store and ensure the cooler fits in your available space.

Cooling Technology:

Choose between thermoelectric or compressor-based systems based on your collection size and ambient temperature.

Temperature Control:

Design and Features:

Consider the style, adjustable shelves, UV protection, and other features that suit your needs.

Customer Reviews and Reputation:

Research the brand's reputation and read customer reviews for insights into performance and customer support.

Check out our wide selection of wine coolers. Take these factors into account to find the perfect wine cooler to store and showcase your collection.


In conclusion, wine is a diverse and intricate world, with each type requiring specific storage considerations. From the aging potential of reds and whites to the freshness of rosés, understanding the lifespan and optimal storage conditions is essential.

When storing unopened wine, maintaining a steady temperature, protecting it from light, and considering each wine's aging potential are key.

For opened wine, corking it tightly, storing it upright, and keeping it in a cool, dark place can help preserve its flavor and freshness.

When choosing a wine cooler, consider capacity, cooling technology, temperature control, and customer reviews.

Cheers to the world of wine and the pleasure it brings to our palates!