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Riesling Storage: 5 Simple Hacks (Opened & Unopened)

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The query of storing a slightly sweet white wine such as Riesling has its challenges. Whether opened or unopened, there are some simple hacks that can be used to maintain its fresh condition. 

Storing opened or unopened bottles of Riesling (or all light white wines for that matter) are pretty easy concepts once you gain an understanding of them. They are…avoiding sunlight, storing your bottle on its side, and keeping the bottle at the optimal temperature and humidity.

These hacks are guaranteed to preserve your wine! Many wines are versatile, so read below for the best practices.

How to Store Riesling
How to Store Riesling

TIP: If you are interested in checking out the best refrigerator for wine storage I recommend trying out Nutrichef (18 bottles) compressor wine refrigerator. You can find this refrigerator by clicking here (Amazon link).

How to Store Opened Riesling

Storing opened Riesling depends to a large extent on storage conditions – re-cork the wine as soon as you’re finished drinking and keep an opened bottle of Riesling refrigerated until ready to drink again. However, don’t wait past five days or else you will need to toss it. 

The question of storing opened Riesling can be interpreted from several different angles. The best way to store the wine is to keep it cool as long as possible.

So keep your stored wine at a constant temperature for as long as possible. If you’re wondering how to serve chilled wine at room temperature, a chilled wine served at room temperature will most likely warm up.

Does Riesling need to be refrigerated (After Opening)?

Riesling needs to be refrigerated after opening. Cold temperatures significantly delay oxidation reactions, so this keeps your Riesling fresh. Whenever you open a bottle of Riesling it begins to change, but refrigeration keeps it as close to the original as possible. 

Just as you store open white wine in the refrigerator, you should also refrigerate red wine after opening as well. 

What happens if you don’t refrigerate white wine after opening?

Some wines will become more expressive with that initial exposure, but after some time passes, all wines will fade. Oxygen will eventually cause any fresh fruit flavors to disappear and aromatics to flatten out. Drinking a wine that’s faded due to oxidation won’t make you sick, it will just taste unpleasant.

The oxygen in the air eventually causes all fresh fruit flavors and aromatics to disappear. You won’t get sick from drinking a Riesling that has faded due to oxidation; (not been refrigerated) it will just taste bad.

On an interesting note, sparkling wine, just like Riesling, should also be stored in the refrigerator once opened. If you’re drinking sparkling wine, you should drink it as soon as possible after opening it because it can go flat – think of soda and how the carbon dioxide dissolves after it’s opened. 

TIP: If you want to learn much more about storing opened white wine, please check out this comprehensive article we wrote.

Riesling Storage Temperature

In terms of Riesling storage temperature, consistency is the key. Anything between 50 degrees and 70 degrees is fine. Unless you live in a hot climate with no air conditioning, storing it at room temperature should suffice. What is important: avoiding wide temperature fluctuations.

 Temperature fluctuations cause the wine to expand and contract. It can cause the liquid to push the cork out, and can cause oxygen to get into the wine, which causes the wine to age too quickly and turn into vinegar.

There is no need to obsess over keeping wine at a certain temperature, but it is imperative to keep the wine’s temperature consistent. 

How long can you keep Riesling in the Fridge?

Opened Riesling can last for three to five days in the refrigerator as long as you re-cork it. If the cork or stopper is not available for the opened bottle of Riesling, cover the opening with plastic wrap and place a rubber band around the bottle neck to seal the plastic tightly. 

Make sure the wine doesn’t accidentally freeze in the refrigerator, but if it does, you can always use it for cooking.

If you have decided to go this route, Riesling wine, when properly stored, will maintain best quality for about 6 months, but will remain safe beyond that time; white wine that has been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.

Even if the Riesling is unopened, don’t keep the wine in the fridge long-term. 

The problem with the refrigerator is that it’s an incredibly dry environment. Specialized wine refrigerators are designed specifically to keep humidity higher. 

If you store wine in the refrigerator over the long haul, it can dry the cork out. A couple of weeks will be fine, but you don’t want to keep the wine in there for two months. 

Just like with beer it is fine to take your Riesling out of the fridge for a few minutes and then return it when you have more space, as long as you don’t do it too often with the same bottle. Temperature extremes, not moving a wine or, for that matter, a beer in and out of a fridge, are what kills it.

TIP: If you are interested in checking out the best refrigerator for wine storage I recommend trying out Nutrichef (18 bottles) compressor wine refrigerator. You can find this refrigerator by clicking here (Amazon link).

How to Store Unopened Riesling

How to Store Unopened Riesling
How to Store Unopened Riesling

Store unopened Riesling according to the flowing principles – consistent temperature, watch humidity, proper bottle orientation, and keep it in the correct place inside your home.  This includes, but is not limited to, keeping wine away from windows. 

Let’s explore these five concepts more closely. 

Keep the Temperature Consistent 

The ideal storing temperature for wine is 55 – 59 degrees, preferably in a cellar, room or cabinet. More important than worrying about an exact temperature range, is avoiding any extreme temperature swings. The expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle is a bad thing. 

Aiming for consistency is better than worrying about minor temperature fluctuations. Consistency also means not re-storing the wine. So if you have gotten the temperature ready to serve and took it out to drink, go ahead and enjoy it!

Watch out for Humidity

What you will hear and read oftentimes is that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70 percent. This theory alleges that dry air will dry out the cork letting air into the bottle and spoiling the wine. While this does happen, it really only happens if you live in very desert-like hot or very cold conditions. 

Anything between 50 percent and 80 percent humidity is considered safe. Placing a pan of water in your storing area can definitely improve the conditions.

However, extremely damp conditions can promote mold. Mold won’t affect a wine if it’s sealed properly, but it will damage the label. If the label is important to you, a dehumidifier is your best bet to fix that problem. 

Bottle Orientation is Important 

If you’re planning on drinking your wine in the near future or even the mid to near future, or if the bottles have alternative closures such as screw caps, glass, or plastic closures, then it is not necessary to store a wine bottle on its side. 

Traditionally bottles have been stored on their sides, in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, keeping the cork from drying out. Either way, horizontal storage (also called racking the wines) won’t hurt the wine! In addition, horizontal racking is definitely a space saver when storing your wine.

Keep Wine away from Sunlight 

Light, and especially sunlight, pose a problem for long-term wine storage. The UV rays of the sun degrade and prematurely age wine. 

Most wine bottles are colored to help this problem, but keep your wine away from the sunlight! 

Keep your Unopened Riesling in the correct place in your home

Some simple racks in a safe place will be sufficient if you don’t have a fancy wine cellar. The kitchen, laundry room and boiler room are not good ideas for wine storage. The hot temperatures can affect your wine. 

Also, as mentioned above, don’t pick a place with large windows that put your wine directly in the sun. 

A wine cooler may be a good investment as well, following the same guidelines we outlined above. For example, if you keep your wine fridge in a cooler place, it won’t have to work quite as hard (as it would if you kept it in the laundry room or kitchen). 

TIP: If you want to know more about how to store your wines correctly check out this article. And for the complete breakdwon of storing wines with natural and synthetic corks check out this article.

How Long Does Riesling Last Unopened?

The length of time for storage of unopened wine depends on the style of the wine – so Riesling being a light, slightly sweet, white wine will last unopened for one to two years. In general, lighter wines tend to go bad a lot faster than darker varieties. 

Wine also needs to be kept in an odor-free environment. Since some air will always get back into the wine through the cork, the molecules that make up that odor can, and will, get into the wine over time. Certain odors are fairly benign, others are quite harmful.

Unless you really are committed to storing wine for investment purposes, or are a real aficionado, just keep Riesling wine storage simple.

As mentioned above, one easy requirement is a rack or cubby that holds bottles horizontal or sloping downward, allowing liquid to touch the cork. It keeps the cork moist and keeps any oxygen from getting in.

The same is true for screw tops. Simple pine crates, widely available online, are great, but you can also use a shoe rack or other sturdy rack. Visit your local bed and bath retailer or home improvement store for possibilities that work with your space. Storing your Riesling properly will ensure its long life. 

Since Riesling, like all white wine, has low tannin content, it will oxidize more quickly than red wine. If corked, white wine will last for about 3-5 days, and it will last even longer if kept below room temperature and stored upright. 

Does Riesling Go Bad (Expire)?

Yes, once wine is opened, it’s exposed to more oxygen, heat, light, bacteria, and yeast – all of which can cause chemical reactions that alter the quality of the wine causing it to go bad. Unopened Riesling, though it will last longer, can also go bad. 

Storing wine in lower temperatures will slow down these chemical reactions and keep wine fresher longer.

There are signs to look for that your wine — both opened and unopened — has gone bad. The first way to check is to look for any change of color.

For the most part, dark-colored wines, such as purple or bright red that turn a brownish color, as well as light white wines that change to a golden or opaque color should be discarded. The change in color typically means that the wine has been exposed to too much oxygen.

TIP: Check out the 7 common reasons why your wine turns brown and how to fix it in this article I wrote.

Fermentation (unplanned) can also occur, creating unwanted tiny bubbles in the wine. Smelling your wine is also a good indicator of whether your wine has gone bad.

A wine that has been left open for too long will have a sharp, vinegar-like smell similar to that of sauerkraut. Wine that has gone stale will start to have a nut-like odor or smell like applesauce, burnt marshmallows, wet dog, or musty basement. 

Looking at the wine cork can also give you an idea. A wine leak that is visible in the cork or a cork pushing past the wine bottle rim could be a sign that your wine has undergone heat damage, which can cause the wine to smell and taste dull.

TIP: Once you pop the cork, most wines go bad within a day or so. But a Coravin Wine Preservation system (available for a great price on Amazon) can extend the life of your opened wine for weeks or even months. It is awesome. You should check it out and see if it will fit into your lifestyle.

Conclusion

For serious wine collectors, wine storage is a full-time hobby, with specialized equipment and more, but not for the average wine lover.

Most people don’t over think it and go crazy worrying about wine storage; they just want to properly store their wine so it will at its best when it’s time to drink it! 

At the end of the day, 99 percent of all the wine that’s made in the world is meant to enjoy right away.

That means you don’t need to shell out for a pricey wine refrigerator or remodel your basement into a climate-controlled cellar — just follow the simple tips found in this article and enjoy!

TIP: For a complete list of wine products and accessories I really love, check out this page. You’ll find my recommendations for wine refrigerators, wine decanters, and wine aerators, along with the best place to buy wine online. Click here to see the complete listing.