When it comes to storing your own wine bottles in your house, there is a science and knowledge that needs to be known ahead of time before you even try to attempt it. This is because wine is actually a very fragile drink. You cannot treat wine like canned food and just put it in the cabinet until you use it (or out in the open). Wine has a variety of special instructions that one needs to follow if they wish to store their wine properly and keep the flavor of the wine intact. It truly becomes a pity when people spend money on a wine that truly is good, but ends up falling short of expectations because the person failed to store the wine the way it should be stored. If you are not aware of the science behind storing your wine properly then look no further. This article will focus on one of the most basic and important wine storage tips that exist out there. That is correct! We will be talking about the ideal temperature for wine and wine storage. Temperature is truly a powerful influence on your wine. It can alter your wines in the worst way and keep it at optimal taste and quality as well. It all depends on the temperature you utilize. If you want to know the secret behind keeping your quality wine at optimal taste then continue onward to be the guru of all things wine and temperature.
The Ugly with Wine and Heat
I am going to lay it down simply. Wine and heat are an ugly mix. That is just the honest truth. Maybe in some perfect, utopian society, these two things could have been friends, but in the real world it just does not work that way. Wine and heat are enemies and it is so imperative that you do your wine bottles a great favor and keep it that way. Why? What about heat makes it the enemy of quality wine? Well there are a few reasons. For starters, when wine is exposed to heat for an extended period of time than the wine starts to expand. When wine begins to expand, two phenomena can end up happening. The first phenomena are known as a pushed or raised cork. This happens when the wine expands and forces the cork out and away from the neck of the bottle. This causes it to push under the capsule. This is a no-no. The second phenomena that could end up happening is what is known as a leaker. In the case of having a leaker, the wine expanded and ended up leaking around the cork. Very bad. If you fall into the scenario of a raised or pushed cork then this basically means that the wine has been exposed to oxygen. In this case, the wine becomes prematurely oxidized. If it oxidizes prematurely then the wine will age very quickly and spoil. Spoiled wine is just going to yield a whole lot of disappointment and a damper on the mood of any dinner or party. A leaky wine will produce the same effect as well. You really do not want to deal with such disastrous consequences so absolutely do not leave your wine in the heat at all. Be sure that you have an ideal space within your house where you can keep your wine safe and, in an environment, where the temperature is completely controllable. If you tend to buy wines online and have them shipped to you then I would inquire from the seller or delivery service how they plan to ship the wine in transit. A lot of the time, sellers do not pay attention to the shipping part of wine and actually end up shipping the wine in hot conditions that cause your wine to age prematurely before it even reaches your doorstep! Not all sellers do this, but read reviews and make sure you know where you are getting your wine from. That way you do not have to be in the horrible situation where you spend good money on wine and it is ruined not because of you, but because of recklessness of the seller or company delivering the wine. Be sure to be wary of this! Try to order your wines during days where the temperatures are cooler so that you can keep this scenario from happening!
What is the Deal with Wine and Cold Air?
Now just like wine and heat are enemies, wine and cold air do not get along very well either. Temperatures that are too cold can produce harmful effects to your wine and its taste. If the air is too cold, the wine will contract instead. This means that there will be extra air between the wine and the bottle. This extra air can seep around the wine and the cork which can also lead to oxidation as well. Wines that have been through this experience will not have that distinguishable and delicious aromatic smell or profile to it. Instead you will get a wine that is very stewed and prune-like in flavor. This is known as a cooked wine. Cooked wines produce flavors that are often thin and lacking in body and character. The flavor just falls flat and it is so upsetting to experience. Be smarter about the way you store your wine and be mindful that you probably shouldn’t be putting your wine in refrigerators or freezers for too long. Wine is not like dairy where it needs to be in the refrigerator in order to stay fresh and not spoiled. You can keep your wine in a refrigerator for a couple of months, but honestly you shouldn’t ever surpass that time limit. The reason for this is because the average temperature of a refrigerator falls around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a lack of moisture in the air which over time dries out the cork. This causes the cork to work less efficiently, allowing for air to seep through and damage the wine. Also, be mindful of the room you keep your wine in. For example, if you keep your wine in a storage area in the garage, but it is winter time then this signals to you that you should probably not keep your wine there during the duration of the winter season. Garages are thinly insulated and tend to quickly take on the temperature of the outside. The same can be said for certain areas of the house like basements, attics, etc. Be mindful of the typical temperatures within your home so that you can be cognizant of the correct places to store your wine.
What Temperature is Ideal for Optimal Wine Storage?
Now that you have a better understanding of why temperatures that are too hot or too cold can severely damage the quality of your wine, the next question you are probably asking is how do you keep the wine at optimal quality? What is that golden temperature that you should always aim to keep your wine at? The science behind the correct temperature for a wine is sort of hard to really pinpoint. Not all temperatures work for all wines and this is mainly due to the fact that wines vary so much in flavor and aging that every kind of wine needs a different range of ideal temperature. Thankfully though, many people have been able to pinpoint what types of wines should fall around what kind of temperature. The rule of thumb or golden rule for wines that possess a tart flavor and are bright and white in color, is 48-52 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparkling wines fall around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a rich white wine similar to an aged chardonnay then your ideal temperature is around 58-62 degrees Fahrenheit. Now I think you noticed so far that as the wines get darker in color, the ideal temperature range is slowly increasing. Therefore, you can assume that dark red wines are going to be able to thrive better in temperatures that are slightly higher than what has been previously stated. For example, light red wines like Chianti, young pinot noir, or Beaujolais are best when they are stored at temperatures of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, heavy red wines can be a little higher in temperature falling at a range of about 63-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
With that being said, do not fret if the place that you store your wine at does not fall exactly within that temperature range. You have a little wiggle room to go a couple degrees above the stated range as well as a couple degrees below. In addition, know that while the debate of the ideal temperature of wine and optimal wine quality is often at different ends about the exact and correct temperature, know that it is very safe to bet that temperatures that are at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above are never ideal for any kind of wine as well as temperatures that are at the low 40’s to high 30’s end.
What Temperature is Ideal for Optimal Wine Serving?
Serving temperature and storage temperature can sometimes vary a bit when it comes to wine. The difference is not huge by any means, but over time as wines have been sipped and guzzled people have found out the best temperatures to serve a variety of wines. They notice that through these kinds of temperatures the wine’s profile, flavor, tannins, structure, and aroma really come through to produce the best that the wine has to offer.
Many people argue that out of red wine and white wine, white wine tends to be enjoyed best when it is slightly chilled. Notice how I say slightly chilled because too chilled really mutes the flavor and aromas whereas too hot really bring downs the flavor to flat. I recommend that if you are serving a white wine, keep it at the temperature I said earlier for storage, but then prior to about 30 minutes before serving, allow the bottle to sit in a bucket of ice for a bit. This allows the bottle to have a slight chill to it, but it won’t be too extreme that it destroys what the wine has to offer. Serve the wine at a temperature of about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it comes to red wine, the same can be said about too hot or too cold. It has been noted by many people that when you serve a red wine that is too cold then it tastes very tannic or acidic. With this in mind, you want to serve your red wine at temperatures that are a bit above the range of white wine. Many people say that temperatures that fall around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit are quite ideal.
This list does not encompass all the wine varieties that exist out there, but here are some of the most common ones and their ideal temperature!
Syrahs, Zinfandels, Merlot, Malbec, & Cabernet Sauvignon – Chill in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes and keep at a temperature range of about 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cabernet Franc – Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes and keep at a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pinot Noir – Chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes and keep at a temperature range of about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chardonnay, Viognier, White Bordeaux Blends – Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes and then keep at a temperature of about 50 degrees.
Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc – Chill in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes and keep at a temperature of about 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Champagne, Sparkling Wine – Chill in the fridge for about 40 minutes and maintain a temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
There you have it! A list of the best storage and serving temperature for wine. It is important to remember that wine temperature is a balancing act and any sort of extremity in temperature will set it off. The right temperature for any kind of wine is not a one temperature fits all. The science of the right temperature will depend on the wine’s tannins, acidity, alcohol content, etc. Yet with that in mind, as long as you are in the general range then your wine should totally be good to go for your next party or relaxation sesh.