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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Can Champagne be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely?
—Marshall M., Carlsbad, Calif.
Despite what some members of my family believe, nothing lasts forever in a refrigerator, and definitely not potato salad. Refrigeration can slow bacterial growth in food, but over time, even refrigerated food will deteriorate and taste, smell or feel funny.
When it comes to wine, food refrigerators are OK—but not ideal—places to store wine short-term. I store whites, opened bottles of wine and bottles of bubbly there, but never for more than a week or two. Think about it this way: Wine storage is ideally around 55° F with about 60 percent relative humidity. Refrigerators are usually around 35° F, with much lower humidity, the drier environment to inhibit bacterial growth. That drying air can tempt corks into contracting, and prematurely aging your wine.
That’s not to say that every wine is doomed if it’s stored in a fridge, but I’d recommend finding a cool, dark part of your house to store your wine in, or invest in some sort of wine cooler that will have more ideal temperatures and humidity. Leave the refrigerator for the potato salad.
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