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Majestic Guide How Do You Store Unopened Red Wine

Category: Majestic Guides

How Do You Store Unopened Red Wine? Cellars and Storage

In Short:
Store wine bottles on their sides in a consistently cool, dark place to keep them at their best.

How do you store wine at home?

Chances are, your home doesn’t come with a dedicated wine cellar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t store wine properly. By mimicking cellar conditions in the space you have, you’ll ensure wines are at their best when you’re ready to drink them.

Bottles are best stored away from direct light, on their sides – this ensures that corks don’t dry out, causing oxidisation. Crucially, bottles should also be stored at a cool, constant temperature without too many fluctuations. Aim for a space between 10 and 15 degrees all year, avoiding anywhere that may drop below freezing or reach 25 degrees or more. Both extremes can impact wines in a negative way.

Traditional cellars, such as those found in established European wine regions, like Champagne or Burgundy, are often underground, sometimes carved into rock. Long before refrigeration or air conditioning existed, this was the best way to store wines at a consistently cool temperature year-round.

You certainly don’t have to age your wines underground these days. But if you do have a basement, this can often be a good spot, especially if it is cool and dark. Alternatively, try storing your wine under the stairs – in a cupboard, if you have one – or in a rack in a dark corner of a living room.

Keep wines away from radiators, windows and as far away from the kitchen cooker as possible, as these areas all see the highest temperature fluctuations.

If you don’t have a cool, dark area in your home – or if you have especially precious bottles you’d like to age for an extended period – a home wine fridge can be a worthy investment.

These special fridges come in many sizes and price points, but all are designed to keep your wines always at the optimal temperature, as well as at the optimal humidity. By maintaining wines at about 60-70% humidity, you ensure that their corks don’t dry out or, conversely, become mouldy.

Which wines age well?

Most wines, especially everyday wines, are best drunk fairly soon after purchase. There are many factors that go into determining whether a wine is suitable for aging, including the grape variety, winemaking method (for example, whether it's aged in oak) and vintage. In general, though, the best wines for aging tend to be those with plenty of body, tannin, acidity and fruit intensity.

These will integrate and mellow over time, resulting in a wine with complex flavours and aromas, as well as structure. There are exceptions – for example oaked white Chardonnay from Burgundy, white Rioja or sweet wines like Sauternes – but most wines that age well for long periods are reds. Famous examples include Port, Bordeaux and Barolo. Try some of these age-worthy wines for yourself:

Shop Bordeaux here

Try Barolo here 

Fancy a Port? Discover fantastic examples here