Storing Opened and Unopened Bottles of Red Wine

A co-owner of Hicksville, New York-based Godsell Construction Corporation, Arthur Godsell is an avid wine collector. Regularly traveling to France and Italy, particularly to the Bordeaux, Chianti, and Tuscany regions, Arthur Godsell often attends local wine tastings domestically and abroad.

Although many red wines commonly bought in stores are best when consumed within the first few years, proper storage of the bottles is important for maintaining flavor and aging. In general, keeping wine in a cool area ensures that it ages at the ideal rate. Temperatures above 70 degrees often age wine faster than most people would like. However, temperatures below 45 degrees may dry out corks and allow oxygen into the bottle, which may damage the red wine inside. Changing the temperature frequently may also damage wine.

Since wine ages prematurely when exposed to light for extended periods, dark places are best for long-term storage. Although light bulbs are not nearly as damaging to wine as sunlight, they do fade labels. Storing bottles on their sides has traditionally served as a way of keeping the cork from drying out. This is not as important for bottles with alternative closures such as plastic corks or screw caps.

Once a red wine is opened, storing changes slightly. Although properly stored reds may last for a couple weeks, drinking them within a few days after opening is best. If over half of the bottle is gone, store the remaining wine in a smaller bottle to lessen the amount of oxygen that mixes with it. If more than half is left, leave the wine in its original bottle, but remove as much oxygen as possible. Keeping the opened bottle in the fridge further helps slow the spoiling process.

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