How to Store Wine for Aging

If you’re looking to hold onto a special bottle of wine, it pays to know a thing or two about how to store it properly to enjoy later. Wine is a constantly evolving substance that matures in the bottle by becoming more complex and softening as it ages. However without proper treatment, wine is susceptible to spoilage. Here’s our list of things to keep in mind when storing wine:

Keep it in a cool area

Some places to consider storing your wine are in a cool basement, closet, wine cabinet, or cellar if you have one. The ideal temperature range for wine storage is between 45° F and 65° F. Heat above 80° F accelerates the chemical reactions that happen in the bottle when aging and may result in oxidation or browning. It’s also worth noting to avoid freezing your wine as the bottle can shatter as the wine liquid expands in these cold conditions. If attempting to chill your wine quickly before serving, place it in the freezer for no longer than 20 minutes.

Humidity can help

Having your wine in a humid area will help the exterior portion of the cork from drying out. If you have a humidifier at home, try running it now and then in the area where you store your aging wine. For a more professional (and costly) setup, you can purchase a humidifier specifically made wine storage that mounts to a wall.

Store bottles with corks on their side

For wine bottles equipped with corks, the correct method of storage for individual bottles is on their side. This keeps the inner cork wet protecting the seal and prevents it from drying out. When a cork dries, oxygen flows more freely into the bottle and can cause damage your wine. Cases of wine should be packed with the bottle upside down so the inner cork is saturated with the liquid within.

Keep out of direct sunlight

UV rays damage a wine in addition to creating temperature fluctuations. Keep your aging wine in a dark area out of sunlight.

Avoid the refrigerator for prolonged periods

It’s great to have a cold bottle of white wine on hand in the household refrigerator but try to keep it in there less than a week. Corked wine bottles share oxygen with their outside environment, which in this case means your food storage area. Beware, wines can take on the tastes and smells of your refrigerator! Another thing to understand is refrigerators have a drying effect on corks in bottles, leading to oxidation.

How long should I age my wines?

There’s no strict rule as to how long you decide to age your wines but after a long period they will pass their maturity and start to decline in taste. We recommend aging red wines up to 10 years in the bottle to enjoy during their peak. White and rose wines should be aged up to 3 years in the bottle.

How to serve an old (aged) bottle of wine

As wine ages past 10 years, you may notice sediments (tannins) as small bits of bitter specks in your glass. While harmless to drink they do put a damper on enjoying an aged wine. Before deciding to open and pour, we recommend placing the aged bottle of wine upright on the counter for about an hour to allow any sediment to drop to the bottom of the bottle. Try not to rotate or shake the bottle afterwards, as that would defeat the purpose! When ready, carefully pour the wine into a decanter to leave all sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Serve from the decanter into wine glasses.

Paul Moretti
Paul Moretti

I'm a guy who wants to share some knowledge and make wine less intimidating for the average person. I'm also a grape grower, winemaker, tech geek, avid whiskey drinker, dance commander, BBQ pit master, never-ending scholar, and family man.