Storage Guide: Wine Storage

By Staff

Wine collecting has become increasingly popular and common over the last century with people of average or above income. Prior to this it was only the rich who would have wine collections which was usually located in the cellars of their homes. Of course this wine was only for family and guest use and was not so much viewed as an investment but rather as a need. Today, many people now view wine collecting as investing.

People buy good wines and store these correctly and in time the value of the wine increases and in many cases this value increase can be substantial. An investment in wine can yield a high return if you pick the right wine and store it correctly.

Wine can be very expensive depending on the type of wine, the country and region of origin and the age and condition of the wine. If wine has been stored correctly it can last for many years. It is very common when old shipwrecks are discovered at the bottom of the sea to find wine on board in excellent drinking condition. The reason for this is the near perfect storage conditions. Wine needs to be stored in the correct temperature and humidity in order that it remains in good condition. Wine should also be stored in a still environment with no odors in the air and in a location where there is adequate security to protect your investment.


Temperature is a key factor in preserving your wine and allowing it to age well.

The correct temperature for storing wine is 56 - 58 degrees F. Wine is composed of organic esters which gives wine its characteristic flavor and complex biochemical compounds which give wine its character 56-58 degrees F is optimal as at this temperature there are a maximum number of complex organic ester reactions to give your wine character and the minimum number of organic reactions to ruin your wine.

As the temperature rises, the organic reaction between the esters and the complex biochemical compounds increases the delicate balance of esters and decreases the complex biochemical compounds which yields a poor taste to the wine. At the optimal storage temperature of 56- 58 degrees F the balance of these chemicals is optimal and the reaction between these chemicals is optimal and the wine ages well and tastes great.

Different wines should be served at different temperatures. Use the following as a guide.

  • Rich, Red and full bodied wines should be served at 59 - 68 degrees F

  • Light Red should be served at 54 - 57 degrees F

  • Dry White, Rose and Blush wines should be served at 46 - 57 degrees F

  • Champagne, and sparkling wines should be served at 43 - 47 degrees F

A simple guide is that red wines can be served directly from storage and white wines should be removed from storage to the refrigerator before serving.


Humidity levels of 70 percent RH or higher is optimal for wine storage. At this humidity level cork shrinkage is prevented which can cause oxygen to slowly leak in to the bottle this causing oxidation and the conversion of the wine to acid. You may have tasted wine where you though it tasted too bitter and this is the result of oxidation.


Ullage is term used to describe the gap between the cork and the wine in the bottle. There is a term proper ullage which describes the distance that should exist between the cork and the wine. If the humidity level is maintained at 70 percent RH you will have water diffusion from the outside in thus causing the cork to expand and no wine can escape as the diffusivity of water is greater than wine.

The cork lasts longer this way and the wine should not need to be re-corked for a long time to come. If the relative humidity is maintained lower than this 70 percent the reverse will happen with wine ever so slowly leaking from the bottle and the cork drying out thus allowing oxygen to ever so slowly leak in. Air or more precisely oxygen is a wine destroyer and it causes the oxidation of the esters to organic acid. The most common acid is vinegar which is acetic acid.

If the wine in a bottle is filled to a high level this is generally a sign of a new wine or a very good wine of 5 - 15 years of age. If the wine is below the shoulder of the bottle the wine is probable not drinkable. Depending on the age and type of the wine the level of wine in the bottle will be different however the level should be at least to the upper shoulder on the bottle. This is a pretty good guarantee that the bottle of wine is good.


Labels also need to be protected while the wine is in storage. This can be difficult as the high humidity environment will not help keep the able intact or free from staining. Most storage companies that specialize in storing wine will have plastic protectors to protect the labels on the wine. Be sure to check with the facility you plan on storing your wine with to see if they have these, if not you can purchase yourself and apply to the bottle before they are stored.