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How to Store and Serve Red Wine

Red wine is the favorite of many collectors. With proper storage, red wines can age and develop over years, or even decades. All wines should be stored in a cool location, at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Red wines are happier at slightly higher temperatures than whites, so it makes sense to store bottles of red wine at the top of your wine cellar or cabinet since heat rises. A vibration free environment is especially important for storing and aging red wine, which develops sediment more easily than white wine. The wine cellar environment should also be dark and humid. You can read more about the science of aging wine and wine cellar conditions in the education center.

Wine Storage Cabinet

This traditional custom wine cellar in Rancho Sante Fe, California, appears bigger than it actually is – thanks to the great design and implementation from the team at Vintage Cellars.

When serving a bottle of red wine that has been cellared, you may want to allow it to warm up a little. With a young red wine, it can be beneficial to decant first so that it will breathe a little as it warms. Full-bodied, intense red wines can be served as warm as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium-bodied reds will be best at around 60 degrees, and the lightest fruity red wines will be delicious at wine cellar temperature.

Decanting an aged red wine is a good idea, though older wines should not be allowed to sit too long. Red wine develops sediment as it ages, and pouring it into a decanter rather than straight into the glass allows you to keep the sediment in the bottle. Large-bowl wine glasses are best for red wine, allowing a large surface area to breathe. You can buy glasses specific to varietals, but it´s most important to just choose a large-bowled glass and leave enough space for swirling.

If you must store a bottle of red wine that has been opened, recork it if possible (some bottle openers can also recork) or use a wine bottle stopper and place it in the refrigerator. All but the more delicate aged reds should keep for a couple days. If you want to be able to serve wine by the glass, or if you often store opened bottles, a preservation system might be right for you.

Written by

Gene Walder

Former President and co-owner of Vintage Cellars and Vintage Wine Cellars, Gene started Vintage Cellars in 1990 and stepped down in 2020. Under new ownership, Vintage Cellars continues thriving 31 years later with over 2,500 gorgeous custom wine cellars designed and built. Gene is an expert in all aspects of building and designing custom wine cellars and wine storage.