You don’t need a wine cellar to do right by your wine, but there are a few ways to store and serve your wine to keep it tasting its best.
Do you refrigerate open bottles of wine? Yes, you do refrigerate open bottles of wine. This is true for both red and white wines.
Are you looking at that open bottle of red wine on the counter with confusion already? Let’s get into why (and when!) it’s best to refrigerate wine, along with a few wine storage tips to keep your wine and wine knowledge fresh.
Effects of Oxygen on Wine
Oxidation happens when a bottle of wine is exposed to air. It doesn’t happen immediately, but the chemical reaction can affect the wine’s taste, body, and aromas over time.
It can also be a good thing if it’s happening in a controlled way. You’ve probably heard all about giving wine time to “breathe.” That’s why you may see sommeliers swirl a fresh wine around before serving it at a wine tasting.
This releases intended aromas in a wine. It may even soften the tannins in more full-bodied types of wine. You don’t need a fancy wine aerator to do this yourself. Pour the wine into a decanter if you’re drinking it all in one go, or swirl it around in your glass for the same effect.
How to Preserve Wine
The best way to preserve wine is to keep it as close as possible to the winemaker’s intentions when sealing up an open bottle.
Try to recork the bottle using the original cork with the same end inside the bottle as before. You don't know where the top of the cork has been and certainly don’t want potential contaminants touching your wine. If your bottle has a screw cap, this part of wine preservation is even easier.
If you can’t use the original cork, a wine stopper works well, but you don’t even need to get that fancy with leftover wine. A piece of plastic wrap wound tightly around the lip of the bottle and then held there with a rubber band is a decent short-term fix.
Wine gadgets that promise a vacuum seal and inert gas sprays are other options if you’re worried about the shelf life of more expensive opened bottles of wine. In most cases, the simple methods we described work well to keep your wine fresh after opening.
The most crucial part is not letting your wine sit on the counter uncorked indefinitely. Unless you’re decanting a bottle to finish in one sitting, recork an open bottle of wine immediately after you pour your wine.
Whether it’s red or white, refrigerate your wine in between pours. Just give your reds time to return to their ideal serving temperature before the next glass. A wine fridge is great if you plan on starting a wine collection, but your kitchen refrigerator is fine for this, too.
Storing and Serving Red Wines
Serving red wine the right way starts well before you uncork a bottle. The best way to store unopened wine is to keep the wine at a consistent temperature and limit movement. A cool, dark place out of direct sunlight is best if you don’t have a wine refrigerator.
Humidity between 50-80 percent is ideal, which isn’t too much of an ask unless you live somewhere with extremes. Use a dehumidifier if humidity at home goes above that number. Keep your wine bottles on a horizontal wine rack if they’re corked. Twist-offs can go vertical.
Do you refrigerate red wine? You don’t need to refrigerate red wine if it’s unopened, but red wine is at its best when stored at a temperature of about 55° F.
The ideal temperature for serving red wine is between 60-68° F. That should be cooler than room temperature, the temp most people probably go by when pouring reds.
If you already have some wine expertise and store reds at their preferred temperature, you still need to let them sit out for a bit before serving. A half-hour should do. Run lukewarm water over the bottle if you left your red wine in the kitchen fridge too long or you run short on time.
Once opened, red wine can last anywhere from 3-6 days before going bad. Full-bodied reds like a cabernet sauvignon can last longer once opened than a light-bodied pinot noir.
Fun fact: High-alcohol fortified wines, like port or sherry, can retain their taste for weeks, even years after opening. The shelf life is even longer, making them ideal for aging. There’s no expiration date on an unopened bottle of Madeira, for example.
Read Next: How to Make a Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Spritz
Storing and Serving White & Rosé Wines
Store rosé wine and white wine the same way you store red wines. A dark, cool spot is your friend if you don’t own a wine fridge, and any wines with natural corks should be stored horizontally.
Do you refrigerate white wine? You do refrigerate white wine after it’s opened. If you have a wine fridge, you can store your unopened white wine at its ideal temperature between 45-50°F.
If you don’t have a wine fridge, that dark place you keep around 55° F should do just wine. A kitchen fridge is OK for short-term storage, but it may cool your wine down to as low as 35° F. That could affect the flavor.
The ideal temperature for serving rosé and white wine is somewhere in the middle of the ideal storage range, around 48° F. For the best temperature, place it in the fridge for an hour or 2 before serving to get the temperature down.
You may need to wait a few minutes on the other side to avoid serving over-chilled wine.
Once opened, rosé or white wines last between 3-5 days. Full-bodied white wines like chardonnay don’t last as long as wines with higher acidity, like sauvignon blanc. Treat dry, darker rosés the same as full-bodied red wines.
Storing and Serving Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wines like prosecco and champagne should be stored upright to reduce pressure on the cork. You don’t want to make a mess of your wine storage or speed up the oxidation process for a wine style that needs to retain its fizz.
Like white wine, you don’t need to store sparkling wine in the kitchen fridge. A wine fridge is best, but a max temperature of 55° F is just fine.
The ideal temperature for serving sparkling wine is ice cold at about 40-50° F. This is colder than your white and rosé wines because of those bubbles. Serve a sparkling wine any warmer, and you may lose out on some of that trademark fizz or spoil your wine.
Sparkling wines like prosecco or champagne may only last a day or 2 after opening before going flat. Use an ice bucket between pours to keep it at its ideal temperature. If you keep it overnight, cork your bottle with a champagne stopper before setting it back in the fridge.
How to Chill Wine Fast
If you forgot to chill your wine and the guests are on their way, there are a few ways to chill wine quickly and effectively:
- Give it a bath. We’re not talking about a bubble bath. Slip your bottle of wine into a salted ice bath, moving it around every minute or so. It should only take about 5 minutes for your wine to cool. A wine bucket is excellent, but a mixing bowl can do in a pinch.
- Stick it in the freezer. This isn’t the fastest method —it’ll take at least 30 minutes to chill your wine —but it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort. If you have the space, set your wine in the freezer horizontally to save time. Just don’t forget about it there!
- Serve it with frozen grapes. Frozen grapes are the new ice cubes if you want to chill a glass of wine whimsically We love this with ice wine, a super sweet dessert wine made of grapes that froze on the vine.
The Crisp, Non-Alcoholic Whites You’ve Been Looking For
If you’re a fan of chilled wine already, you’re probably all about white wines. Wine lovers who want to cut back on alcohol don’t have to leave those white wines behind. Surely’s non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc is a light, crisp bottle of perfection with the alcohol removed.