How to Properly Store Opened Bottles of Wine

Storing opened bottles of wine properly requires attention to detail and an understanding of the factors that affect wine’s longevity.

Wine collectors understand that preserving the integrity of wine is an art and a science. Once a bottle is opened, the race against time begins to keep the wine fresh and enjoyable. Proper storage methods can extend the life of an opened bottle significantly, allowing you to savor each glass at its best. Here, we’ll explore expert tips and techniques for storing opened bottles of wine, ensuring your cherished collection remains pristine.

An open bottle of white wine and two glasses on a coffee table.

Understanding the Enemies of Opened Wine

Before diving into storage techniques, it’s crucial to understand the primary factors that contribute to wine degradation once the bottle is opened:

  1. Oxygen: Exposure to air leads to oxidation, which can alter the wine’s flavors, aromas, and color.
  2. Temperature: Wine is sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Too much heat can accelerate aging and spoil the wine.
  3. Light: UV rays can break down the compounds in wine, leading to unpleasant flavors.
  4. Vibration: Constant movement can disturb the sediment in wine, affecting its clarity and taste.

Proper Sealing Techniques

Sealing the bottle effectively is the first step in preserving wine after it has been opened. Here are some methods:

1. Re-Corking

If you still have the original cork, reinsert it into the bottle. This method works best for short-term storage, typically up to 2-3 days. When re-corking, make sure the clean side (the side that was in contact with the wine) goes back into the bottle to prevent contamination.

2. Wine Stoppers

Invest in high-quality wine stoppers, which create a better seal than a cork. These are available in various materials, including silicone and stainless steel. Some wine stoppers come with a vacuum pump to remove excess air from the bottle, providing an added layer of protection against oxidation.

3. Vacuum Sealers

Vacuum sealers are a step up from standard wine stoppers. These devices extract air from the bottle, creating a vacuum that significantly slows down the oxidation process. Brands like Vacu Vin are popular among wine enthusiasts for their effectiveness.

4. Inert Gas Preservation

For those serious about preserving wine, inert gas preservation systems are a top choice. These systems, such as Coravin or Private Preserve, replace the air in the bottle with inert gases like argon or nitrogen, which do not react with the wine. This method can keep wine fresh for weeks or even months.

A glass vase of wine corks.

Optimal Storage Conditions

Once you’ve sealed the bottle, storing it under the right conditions is essential. Here are the key factors to consider:

1. Temperature

Wine should be stored at a consistent temperature. For opened bottles, slightly cooler temperatures are preferable:

  • Red Wine: Store at 55-60°F (13-16°C)
  • White Wine and Rosé: Store at 45-50°F (7-10°C)

If you don’t have a wine refrigerator, the regular kitchen refrigerator works well for short-term storage. Just remember to let the wine warm up to its ideal serving temperature before enjoying it.

2. Humidity

While humidity is more crucial for long-term storage of unopened bottles, keeping your wine storage area at a moderate humidity level (around 70%) can help prevent corks from drying out.

3. Light

Store opened wine bottles in a dark place, away from direct sunlight and artificial light sources. UV-resistant wine cabinets or refrigerators are excellent options.

4. Position

For unopened bottles, horizontal storage is often recommended to keep the cork moist. However, for opened bottles, vertical storage is preferable to minimize the surface area exposed to air.

Learn more about specialized wine storage technologies at The Wine Cellarage.

How to properly store opened sparkling wine.

Special Considerations for Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines pose a unique challenge due to their carbonation. Here’s how to keep them fresh:

1. Champagne Stoppers

Standard wine stoppers won’t work for sparkling wines. Champagne stoppers are designed to withstand the pressure and maintain carbonation. They create an airtight seal and can keep sparkling wine fresh for up to 3-5 days.

2. Refrigeration

Always store opened sparkling wine in the refrigerator. The cold temperature helps maintain carbonation and slows down oxidation.

Wine Preservation Devices and Gadgets

In addition to the methods mentioned above, numerous gadgets on the market can help extend the life of opened wine bottles. Some of the most popular include:

1. Coravin Wine Preservation System

The Coravin system allows you to pour wine without removing the cork. A thin needle pierces the cork, and argon gas pressurizes the bottle, allowing wine to flow out. The cork then reseals naturally, preserving the remaining wine indefinitely.

2. Electric Vacuum Pumps

Electric vacuum pumps automate the process of removing air from the bottle. They are more efficient than manual pumps and can be set to different vacuum levels depending on the type of wine.

3. Wine Dispensers

Wine dispensers, such as those used in wine bars, keep wine at the perfect temperature and dispense it on demand. They often use inert gas to prevent oxidation, making them ideal for those who frequently enjoy different wines.

Storing opened bottles of wine properly requires attention to detail and an understanding of the factors that affect wine’s longevity. 

By sealing bottles effectively, maintaining optimal storage conditions, and utilizing specialized preservation tools, you can enjoy your favorite wines at their best for longer periods. Whether you’re a casual enthusiast or a dedicated collector, these tips will help you make the most of every bottle in your collection.

For more information on wine storage solutions and to browse our selection of wine accessories, give our wine experts a call at 212.991.5700.

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