How To Store Red Wine (Expert Guide)

    Red Wine Storage

    With lots of structured tannins and a tendency towards a deliciously full- bodied nature, red wines seem like the perfect option for long-term ageing at home.

    But how can you store your red wine to make sure your bottles stay at their best?

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    How To Store Red Wine

    Wine Storage

    Storing wine may seem like a real art to most, but its not as hard as people make out, as long as you keep the following factors in mind:

    1. Bottle Orientation

    It may be tempting to store your bottles straight up, as you found them on the wine shelf in the shop, but try and lay your red wine on its side when you can.

    Doing this will help to keep the cork from drying out, keeping your red wine better for longer. 

    2. Stillness

    Try to disturb your bottles as infrequently as possible, treat them like a sleeping child.

    Stillness and lack of disturbances are key to a wine's longevity, as unnecessary movements can alter the taste of the wine. 

    So try to avoid using domestic kitchen refrigerators where you can, as these tend to vibrate quite a lot.

    3. Light Levels

    All wine, whether it be sparkling, white or red, needs to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from any potential UV rays.

    This will help to reduce the chance of any faults developing over time.

    4. Humidity

    Long-term storage of red wine requires a humidity level between 50-85%, and this will also help keep the cork in a good condition.

    Just be aware that any higher humidity will encourage mould damage so try and keep your bottles within this range and not over. 

    5. Temperature

    The best temperature for storing red wine is between 10 and 13 °C (50-55 °F).

    Most wine cellars and specialised wine fridges should be set at this temperature range, meaning you don't have to worry about temperature.

    So taking all of that into account, what are the best places for storing bottles of red wine?

    How To Store Opened Red Wine

    Storing Opened Red Wine

    Here's the thing: as soon as your red wine has been opened oxygen is going to interact with it and slowly diminish the wine’s flavour and vitality. 

    So to help keep this pesky oxygen at bay for as long as possible, put a stopper or cork in the wine bottle and keep it in the fridge where possible.

    Yes, red wine can go in the fridge! And this can help keep the wine fresher for longer.

    Does this mean that unopened red wine should go in the fridge too?

    How To Store Unopened Red Wine

    Red Wine In a Wine Fridge

    The key to storing unopened bottles of red wine for as long as possible is to keep them cool and calm, like a sleeping baby.

    So find somewhere with:

    • Minimal exposure to light
    • Cool and consistent temperatures
    • Away from any disturbances caused from loud noises and vibrations

    A quality wine fridge works wonders here.

    They will have all the conditions your red wine needs, so you don't have to worry about humidity or temperature.

    So where is a good place to store red wine?

    Where Should You Store Red Wine?

    Red Wine Fridge

    When you’re looking for places to store your red wine it’s important to find somewhere that covers the criteria we talked about previously. 

    A wine cellar or a specialised wine fridge will be perfect for storing your red wine, having been designed with wine bottles in mind.

    If you don’t have either of those don’t panic, a garage, or food pantry will also work. 

    Just try to routinely check in with your red wine when you can and keep an eye for any changes in conditions which may affect your red wine.

     So now you've found your perfect storage location for red wine, how should you place your red wine bottles once they're in there?

    Should Red Wine Be Stored Upright or Horizontally?

    Wine stored horizontally

    If you can, try and store your red wine horizontally by laying the bottles on their side.

    A wine rack or wine fridge with horizontal shelves will help to make sure they’re stored horizontally without rolling about. 

    Laying your red wine bottles on their side will help to stop the cork from drying out and ultimately spoiling the red wine over time.

    Will this affect how long a red wine can last once it's been opened?

    How Long Can You Store Red Wine Once Opened?

    If you store the bottles well, most red wine can last between 3-4 days once opened.

    But what about the red wine you haven't got round to drinking just yet?

    How long can unopened red wine be stored for?

    How Long Can You Store Unopened Red Wine?

    Unlike white wine, which has a slightly shorter shelf life, most red wines can last for up to 10 years if unopened. 

    This amount of time is why its so important to pay attention to your storage conditions.

    You see, the tannins in red wines give the wine a lot of structure which helps to ensure they age for a longer period of time. 

    So it's nice to help those tannins out by placing the bottles in a well thought-out storage location.

    So does that mean that red wine can go bad?

    Does Red Wine Go Bad?

    Just like white and sparkling wine, red wine is capable of going bad too, if left unchecked for too long. 

    What should you look out for to see if your red wine has gone bad?

    How Can You Tell Red Wine Has Gone Bad?

    How To Tell If Red Wine Has Gone Bad

    There are a few key signs that a red wine wine has gone bad:

    • What colour is the wine? Is it bright and light or has it gone slightly dull and pale in colour? If it’s looking a little tired, chances are it’ll taste tired, too.
    • How does the red wine smell? If you can’t smell the usual red wine aromas then there’s a chance your wine may have gone bad.
    • Finally, what does the wine taste like? If it tastes unpleasant, or more like a red wine vinegar then perhaps it's time to say goodbye to this particular bottle.

    But could a fridge help to keep red wine at its best for longer?

    Do You Keep Opened Red Wine In The Fridge?

    This very much depends on the wine and the fridge. 

    A lot of red wines will actually benefit from being slightly chilled, which is where a wine fridge really comes into its own.

    Domestic kitchen fridges run a little too cold for red wine, so either try and store the opened red wine in a cool place, or remember to take it out of the fridge and let it warm up a little before drinking. 

    So if you can chill opened red wine does that mean unopened bottles of red wine can go in the fridge as well?

    Do You Keep Unopened Red Wine In The Fridge? 

    Wine Fridges

    Try to avoid keeping bottles of red wine in the fridge for long periods of time as the conditions aren’t always the best.

    Instead opt for some specialised wine storage or look for somewhere cool with little exposure to light and your red wine should be happy there for years to come. 

    But can you keep your red wine forever? 

    Does Red Wine Expire

    Yes, we’re sorry to say that red wine does expire.

    So grab that bottle you’ve been meaning to open, invite some friends round and drink it before it is too late. 

    Before You Go... 

    Wine Barrels

    We hope this provides you all the information you may need on how long does red wine last?

    Interested to know more about how long wine lasts? Check out our full guide here:

    How Long Does Wine Last

    If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at

    Expert Wine Storage can help you find a luxury wine fridge to store your precious wine collection.

    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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