Does red wine have to be in a dark bottle?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

Red wine should ideally be stored in a dark bottle to protect it from light damage. Light, especially UV rays, can have a detrimental effect on the quality and longevity of wine. The use of dark-colored bottles helps to minimize the exposure of wine to light and maintain its integrity.

One of the primary reasons for using dark bottles is to protect the wine from UV rays. UV rays can cause chemical reactions in wine, leading to the development of unpleasant aromas and flavors. These reactions can result in a wine that tastes “skunky” or has a “sunburned” character. By using dark bottles, winemakers aim to shield the wine from these harmful rays.

Red wine, in particular, contains tannins, which act as natural preservatives and provide some protection against light damage. However, it is important to note that even though red wine has built-in protection, it is typically stored for longer periods compared to white wine. As a result, it is crucial to take extra precautions to protect red wine from light, including UV rays.

When it comes to the color of bottles, the darker the better. Dark-colored glass, such as deep green or brown, is more effective at blocking out light than clear or light green glass. These darker bottles offer increased light resistance, helping to keep the wine safe from harmful UV rays.

While green bottles are commonly used for white wines, they are not as effective as brownish bottles for red wine. Green bottles provide some protection against light, but they are not as robust in blocking out UV rays as darker glass. Therefore, brownish bottles are a better choice for red wine storage, as they offer enhanced light protection.

In my personal experience, I have noticed that wines stored in clear or light-colored bottles tend to have a higher likelihood of developing off-flavors and aromas compared to those stored in dark bottles. This observation further emphasizes the importance of using dark bottles for red wine storage.

To summarize, red wine benefits from being stored in dark bottles to protect it from light damage, particularly UV rays. While the tannins in red wine provide some natural protection, storing red wine for extended periods necessitates additional precautions. Dark-colored bottles, such as brownish or deep green, are superior to clear or light green glass in safeguarding red wine from light exposure.