A glass of wine is refreshing with a nice meal, however, what do you do once you’ve uncorked that bottle? Wine doesn’t immediately go bad in the fridge, but once you’ve popped the cork, oxidation hits the wine and softens the flavors and aroma. Oxidation is when oxygen interacts with substance molecules in the wine, changing the flavors and chemical makeup from its original compound. Eventually, all good wine will go bad, but time is on your side.
Which Wine in the Fridge
White and sparkling (champagne) wine is vulnerable to light and heat and should be stored in a cool area such as the refrigerator. Red wine should never be chilled, however you can preserve it in the fridge after it’s been opened. Any wine should not be stored at temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit or below 40 degrees.
Storing Unopened Wine
Once you refrigerate a closed bottle of wine, you prevent it from aging properly. Store unopened white wine in the refrigerator to chill it before drinking. Never store unopened red wine in the refrigerator because it's typically served at room temperature. Storing wine sideways will help to keep air from entering through the cork, which keeps it out of the bottle.
Typically, when you store unopened red or white wine, keep it in temperatures no higher than 58 degrees, away from light, vibrations and odors to preserve the wine’s natural state.
Storing Opened Wine
Practice the three-day rule with opened wine. Wine, like milk and fruit, goes bad once it’s exposed to air, which means it typically goes bad after three days. Although you can purchase wine stopper inserts that remove the air from the bottle, you are better off drinking it within the next few days.
Once you pull the cork, oxidation begins. Some wines initially improve from being exposed to air but after a day or two, will fade and the freshness diminishes.
Both red and white wines benefit from refrigerator storage once they’ve been opened. Wines that have a higher acid content such as crisp whites or dessert wines last a little longer.
Keep your refrigerator temperature consistent, about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, store and maintain your opened bottle of wine much like you do your unopened bottle. Keep it away from light, vibrations, odors and store it sideways with the cork tightly jammed into the top of the bottle.
Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.