How to keep your collection―no matter what size―tasting good to the last drop.

By Real Simple
Updated January 27, 2009
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Large wine rack
Credit: Mark Lund

Store Bottles Sideways

To maintain an airtight seal that protects the wine from oxygen and outside aromas, a natural cork needs to stay moist and expanded. Store the bottle on its side, so the cork stays in constant contact with the wine. Avoid storing bottles upside down in their packing cases, because sediment can collect on the corks.

Note: Bottles with screw caps can stand up to being stood up.

Keep Wine Away From the Light

A wine that has been subjected to bright light for an extended period of time is referred to as light struck, and it will taste dull. Although most bottles are made from tinted glass, which offers some UV protection, there’s still a risk of exposure.

  • Keep bottles out of direct sunlight.
  • Store your wine low to the ground or in a cabinet to help protect it from overhead fluorescent lighting, which can also do damage.

If You Can’t Keep It Cool, Keep It Stable

  • The ideal wine-storage temperature is 45° F for white wine and 55° F for red wine. If you’ll be opening the bottle within six months, a warmer room temperature is fine.
  • Avoid storing bottles in pockets of high heat or in locations where temperatures fluctuate drastically, such as next to the dishwasher or stove.
  • Above all, don’t stash a collection on top of the refrigerator. Overhead lighting and refrigerator exhaust give off a lot of heat, and the constant vibration can adversely affect taste.

Make the Second Time as Good as the First

  • Don’t feel pressured to down an entire bottle in one sitting. You can enjoy what’s left over as long as you recork the wine and store it properly.
  • Make sure the same end of the cork goes back in the bottle (the other end has been exposed to mold and odors). If the cork won’t go in easily, use the blade of a corkscrew to shave a notch near the bottom on either side, or pick up a reusable rubber stopper at a wine shop for about $1.
  • Store the wine in the refrigerator, where the cold will give leftovers the longest life. The acid in white wines will keep them fresh for about three days. Most reds should be finished in a day or two. A screw top (which keeps out more air) will buy you an additional day.
  • If you’re not going to finish a bottle within two or three days of opening it, you’ll need more than just a cork. To make it last the week, remove as much air as you can with a device like the Rabbit vacuum pump (, moistening the stopper first for the tightest seal.
  • Don’t plan to finish the bottle? Freeze leftover wine in ice-cube trays and use the cubes for cooking.