Wine Talk

Snooth User: afinta

Storing reds in a regular fridge

Posted by afinta, May 17, 2009.

I will be away for awhile this summer, and I don't have a wine fridge at home - just a cabinet which usually holds between 2 to 4 cases. I know it is going to be warm in the apartment while I am not there in July - does anyone have an opinion on whether I should put my better reds into the regular fridge while I am gone?


Reply by fminpari, May 17, 2009.

I would store them in a fridge. Heat is the enemy of wine, and temperature fluctuations. The cold won't hurt and the temperature will be steady.

Reply by h2w4, May 17, 2009.

yeah, storing them in the fridge should be fine...just don't be surprised if when you open them there is a lot of sediment

Reply by Eric Guido, May 17, 2009.

Not from experience... but if I had to do this I would do two things.

1st, I'd take everything else out of the fridge and put the temperature down to the warmest setting.

2nd, I'd fill a large pot with water to the top and place it in the fridge with the wine. Because a fridge has no humidity control and tends to suck the moisture out of things. By placing the water in there you'll be giving it a path of least resistance

Reply by tp096255, May 18, 2009.

Ok to store them there short-term, but a regular fridge has low humidity and if you have any wines with natural corks they will eventually dry out, fail and destroy the wine. Also, vibration in a regular fridge is an enemy of wines, especially sparkling. These issues are resolved by using a real wine fridge.

Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

A regular fridge has temperature that is way too low. Low temps can damage wines as much as high ones, bringing on several different problems. That and the low humidity that'll dry out your corks make regular fridge storage a no-no for anything you want to keep for longer than a couple of months. So unless you take Eric's advice above and turn your fridge into a wine cooler while you're away, I'd suggest you look into storing it in the coolest, darkest part of your apartment, or even on some other friend's or family member's premises...

Reply by afinta, May 19, 2009.

Thanks for the ideas - moving them to another location is one thought. I was worried about the vibrations in the regular fridge also. The humidity factor was not in my thinking...
I think I may go with the wine fridge - it is already unseasonably warm here!

Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2009.

If you're interesting in reading further, here's another Snooth forum thread on this subject:

Down aways in that thread, in one of my posts, there is a link to yet another thread on the subject, too...

Reply by The Red Grape, May 19, 2009.

I would only store them in a regular fridge if you had one specifically designated for wine. Then you could set the temperature at its warmest level and there wouldn't be constant opening and jostling of the wine and exposure to light.

Reply by steve753, Jun 1, 2009.

I would put your wines in a closet that doesn't get much heat instead of the refrigerator.

Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 1, 2009.

This topic actually prompted me to do a little experiment. I took an old fridge in my basement and emptied it. I then placed the thermostat down to the lowest setting and placed a large bowl of water right below the cooling unit inside the fridge. I also place a temp gauge and hydrometer inside the fridge.

At this time the fridge has been operating at 44 - 46 degrees with a humidity averaging 30 - 40 percent for the last five days. Now, with the exception of the vibration, which may be fixed with some acoustical tile for the wine to lay on, I'd say we have an "acceptable" wine environment for short term storage.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2009.

Eric, temperature (and maybe humidity) seem too low. Closets (or some better arrangement on other premises) sound better unless temperatures are known to rise too high, even with your maneuvering with the fridge (and especially if a normal fridge!). I really don't like what happens to wine when it's been stored too cold for too long...

Reply by afinta, Jun 2, 2009.

I thought that wine was fine at colder temperatures (reds) - especially for long periods - like decades? Do you think 45 is cold enough to damage the wine?

As to closets - there is just no place in this apartment that will be cool. We are on the second floor, and there are no closets, just cabinets and wardrobes - already with one heat wave I thought my reds were much too warm...

Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 2, 2009.

I agree dmcker but I'm going on the premise that this would be short term and Afinta mentioned that it's very warm where he lives.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 2, 2009.

I agree with Eric. Those numbers would be better than room temps for, say, the 90 days of summer. It's an acceptable stop gap solution and frankly I've always been of the mind that some gradual, subtle temperature variations through the year are preferable to the deep cold of perfect climate control!

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2009.

Definitely depends on what your aims are for the bottles. If you intend to drink them over the next six-months-to-a-year-or-so, then a manipulated fridge arrangement seems better than the cooking-in-a-wardrobe that you worry about. If you wish to lay down the bottles for years, then it sounds like you should figure some other type of arrangement, perhaps on other premises, or even a specialized wine cooler/fridge, though an underground cellar is the ideal. I've found in the past when I haven't had my own cellar that it pays to become friendly with people who have proper cellars, and have benefitted from use of cellar space held by restaurants, importers, liquor stores and private individuals. Never had any problem with access or pilferage, and in most cases didn't even have to pay for the space, but I assume I've been lucky.

Too-cold storage can lead to crystallized precipitates and other types of sedimentary issues, and developmental imperfections that you may not realize until you compare to a bottle of the same provenance that's been stored better. One tell-tale is crystals on the bottom of the cork when you pull it. Years ago I tended to store individual bottles in the fridge for weeks at a time until I noticed the taste difference. Had one Schramsberg reserve bottle of bubbly I'd bought at the winery that was stuck in the back of the fridge for nearly a year, and when I tasted it next to a bottle of the same vintage that I'd bought from a local merchant in Tokyo, both at the same serving temp, was shocked to encounter the brunting of nose and flavors in the deep-fridge bottle. Results were even worse for still wine...

Reply by GregT, Jun 2, 2009.

Why not stick them in a room with a window AC and leave it on? Short of that, I'd put them in the fridge rather than leave them in the hot apartment. There are lots of theories about this one way or another, but heat will damage a wine faster than cold will and the fridge isn't freezing. What you don't want to do is to get them cold, warm, cold, warm, repeatedly. That's the worst for wine.

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