Does Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

By Basil Carter

Wine can be a confusing subject. But some questions about wine are more easily answered than others.

shot of a young couple choosing wine
credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Shopping for wine

Unopened Wine

credit: Jupiterimages/ Images
Sealed wine bottles

Unopened wine should not be refrigerated in a standard kitchen refrigerator, which is too cold for long-term wine storage. Unopened wine should be stored on its side in a cool, dry place or in a special wine refrigerator.

Opened White Wine

close-up of a bottle of white wine with a wineglass on a table
credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Open bottle of white wine

Opened white wine is best kept in the refrigerator. It should be recorked, preferably with a device that removes excess air from the bottle, and placed in the refrigerator. Though the flavor will start to deteriorate slightly after only one or two days, white wines usually remain drinkable for up to six days.

Opened Red Wine

Man pouring wine, close-up of glass
credit: Rayes/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Pouring red wine from the bottle

Opened red wine is best kept at room temperature. Refrigerating a red wine chills it; for drinking, it must be brought to room temperature again. These temperature fluctuations damage a wine's flavor, so it is best to keep opened red wine corked and stored in a cool, dry place.

Opened Sparkling Wine

Champagne flutes
credit: Marc Debnam/Photodisc/Getty Images
Uncorked sparkling wine and glasses

The best way to keep an opened bottle of sparkling wine fresh is with a champagne stopper. These small devices repressurize the bottle and will keep an opened bottle placed in the refrigerator fresh for up to a week.

Longer-Term Storage of Open Bottles

Three young women gathered on sofa, one opening present, smiling
credit: Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images
Unfinished bottle of wine

If you aren't planning to finish drinking an open bottle and aren't concerned with flavor deterioration, you should store it in the refrigerator whether it is white or red. Open wine can be refrigerated for up to a few months and used for cooking or as vinegar.