WHITE AND RED WINE STORAGE TEMPERATURE
Wine has been a part of American culture for centuries– from the time when Europeans first arrived on this continent, all the way up to today. For many people in America, drinking wine is more than just an enjoyable activity; it’s a lifestyle.
Some may enjoy drinking wine as much as they enjoy watching sports or following politics– with equal fervor! It’s no surprise that there are so many different types out there for everyone to find their perfect glass of vino.
But do you know how to store white and red wines? White and red wine storage temperature is one of the most important factors that can affect how a wine taste.
This blog post will tell you everything about storing both a white and red wine at its ideal temperature. Selecting the right type of storage for your wine can have an impact on how it tastes in as little as a month’s time. The most important thing to remember when storing any kind of wine is that temperature extremes are bad news for your precious vino!
WHAT IS THE BEST WINE STORAGE TEMPERATURE?
The last thing you want is to store wine in a place that can lead to deterioration. This means climate control is essential for proper storage.
But what temperature should you be storing your wine at? And does it even make a difference? What about humidity? And when are you supposed to drink your wine? So many questions… but fear not, we have answers!
What Is ‘Normal’ Room Temperature For Wine Storage
“Normal” room temperature is just what it sounds like, the average room temperature where we spend most of our time indoors. And that’s roughly 68°F (20°C). But unless the weather outside is hovering around 82°F (28°C) or above all year round, this norm isn’t so normal!
68°F is acceptable for storing wine if you have no other choice. But there are two main problems with being at the mercy of your local climate:
If it gets too hot or too cold, your bottles can get damaged or even explode! The chemical composition of the wine and the cork make references to wine temperature in terms of ideal aging temperatures. If you maintain these optimal temperature ranges, then you’re more likely to be able to enjoy a bottle over many years.
So, what’s the best way to store wine? In a cool place that’s not super-cold or super-hot!
HOW TO STORE RED AND WHITE WINES AT THEIR RESPECTIVE IDEAL TEMPERATURES?
This article is the first in a series of two that explains how to store red and white wines at their ideal temperatures: 55°F/13°C for whites, and 65°F/18°C for reds. The key word here is temperature; we’re not talking about storage conditions (bottles standing upright or lying down, light exposure, etc.), but rather air temperature inside your wine rack.
You may have noticed some white wines tasting less fruity compared to others when they are served chilled (-10°C/-14°F), while some do taste better this way. This temperature difference is due to the grape’s ripeness (the amount of sugar in the grapes). The warmer the climate was during ripening, the less sugar is present, and vice versa.
The warmer a wine is kept, the faster it ages and loses freshness. Heat speeds up chemical reactions inside a bottle, causing it to mature much faster than if kept cold for the same time period; this phenomenon is called “thermal aging”. Let’s have a look at some examples:
– A Portuguese white wine stored at room temperature (70°F/21°C) will age about twice as fast compared to one stored at 55°F/13°C.
– Another Portuguese white wine aged 2 years at 65°F/18°C will taste about 10% more oxidized than its peers aged at 55°F/13°C.
– A bottle of white wine left in the trunk of your car will age much faster than if it was kept in your basement at 55°F/13°C.
In addition to aging, heat also affects a dry wine’s aromas. If too warm, some aromatic acidity evaporates, and the fruitiness of the wine is reduced. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a fresh tasting white again, keep it cold!
The same holds true for red wines: warmth extracts what we refer to as “reducers”; these compounds are responsible for aromas ranging from gamey (goat) or bell pepper-like (capsicum) on one end of the spectrum, all the way to tar or turpentine-like on the other.
We all know how volatile reducers are; we say it’s “redolent” of a certain aroma, but in fact those compounds are easily evaporated: think of walking into a room that just had someone frying onions (it smells strong, doesn’t it?), then plugging in an air freshener and quickly leaving…the smell is not there anymore.
Reducing aromas do not appear at once however, and so you may have noticed them more when your bottle was stored upright under a wire rack. That’s why this article focuses on storage temperature instead of storage conditions – temperature affects wines regardless of if bottle laying down or standing up.
So how to keep my whites and reds at those ideal temperatures?
If you’re an average wine drinker, what do you do with the case of wine sitting in your cellar when you come back from vacation? You put it on the floor of your garage. Your garage is not a bad idea as long as it doesn’t get too hot inside (being located next to the car engine could prove problematic for example).
If you bought several bottles, store them upright in a cold basement or any other room that stays cool all year round. They should be fine until you have time to drink them. Better yet, invite friends over who’ll help finish off this delicious selection!
For serious collectors however, some investment may be required to store your wine at its ideal temperature. The cheapest, simplest way to do this is with an insulating box called thermoelectric cooler (smaller ones can be found for $100 on the Internet). A high-end solution can cost you thousands of dollars though!
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PROPER STORAGE TEMPERATURE FOR YOUR WINES
“It is interesting to consider why a wine cellar plays such an important part in the appreciation and enjoyment of our fine wines. Simply stated, storage conditions have a dramatic effect on the aging process; with improper storage your fine wine will never reach its potential.” – Robert Mondavi Winery
Wine stability largely depends on three influential factors: pH balance, dissolved oxygen (DO) level and alcohol content. These parameters should be kept constant throughout all the stages in winemaking, including production, maturation and bottling.
One of these factors which many people believe can be neglected during this critical process is temperature control. However, when it comes to storing high quality aged wines, temperature stability is one of the most critical factors that winemakers and cellar masters pay close attention to.
The importance of keeping your wines at a consistent temperature throughout its entire lifespan can be explained through the following two reasons:
1. Wine Quality Enhancement
Storage in specific controlled environments will enhance wine maturity by accelerating aging rates (for reds). In addition, by maintaining a constant temperature throughout maturation, it allows for complete extraction of oak flavor compounds from the barrel wood.
A good example which illustrates this point is Robert Mondavi Winery’s use of seven-story concrete vaults downtown Napa Valley where they store their wines for up to six years. With such large storage spaces and proper environmental control systems in place, they are able to store all their wines at a consistent cool temperature (50 – 55°F), which allows them to mingle and marry each other before bottling.
In fact, when Mondavi opened up the cellar doors after six years, he was so moved by the scent that it almost brought tears to his eyes.
2. Wine Stability Maintenance
Controlling a wine’s temperature at specific levels will help maintain the delicate equilibrium in the chemical makeup of wine and its aromas. For example, in order for white wines to develop their characteristic volatile acidity (VA) profile as well as soften tannins, constant temperature control is essential during barrel aging.
The optimal temperature range for many whites is 59 – 69°F and the longer they stay at this temperature, the better it is to bring out all their qualities.
EXAMPLES OF WHEN YOU SHOULD ADJUST YOUR WINE’S TEMPERATURE
You have just entered a basement restaurant in Paris. The menu has no prices or stars, but the staff is impeccable, and the wine list is written in French. You order what you think will be a nice bottle of red Burgundy–perhaps even Chambertin, because why not? –but when it arrives it’s 10 degrees warmer than you expect. It’s corked!
Although this might not always be obvious from the smell alone, body temperature tends to mask subtle sensory characteristics that can clue you into cork taint (which can also occur at too-low temps). Even if you’re not tasting blind, what do you have to lose by cooling down? Or maybe you’ve got your nose plunged deep in a glass of extremely ripe, high-alcohol red wine at a swanky Manhattan restaurant.
You’re trying to identify the aromas and suspect that TCA (corked wine) is one of them. Does it taste better chilled? Do you need to let it breathe for a few minutes or decant in order to fully appreciate its features? Or are you drinking from an open bottle that has just been taken out of the fridge? Yep, your white is quite cold. Is this really helping you drink better food pairings?
So, What’s Going On Here Again?
Wine’s temperature has a dramatic impact on how we perceive smell, whereas taste is actually more affected by our brain than our tongue, specifically the amygdala, insula, and hypothalamus. The scent receptors we have in our nasal cavity send information to these areas of the brain that process smell (sniffing your wine is already doing this job for you).
Therefore, temperature changes can affect how certain aromas manifest themselves. If you are tasting blind and want to be sure you’re not biased by a particular aroma from its “wardrobe,” chilling it will help eliminate perceptions that seem to pop out at warmer temperatures–and vice versa.
Wines taste better when they are served at their ideal serving temperature: warm whites/cool reds; whites colder than reds. There’s some flexibility here depending on other factors such as food pairing, but generally speaking white wines should be served cool to cold and red wines should be room temperature or cooler.
Bottomline, When You Should Adjust Your Wine’s Temperature:
1. When It’s Served Too Cold
The average white wine should be in the 50-55°F (10-13°C) range. Red wines are best between 60-65°F (16-18°C). Champagnes and sparkling wines are best at serving temperatures of 45–48 °F, or 7–9 °C.
In fact, that’s a good rule to remember: most whites can stand being chilled to 47 degrees; reds like it a couple degrees cooler at about 52 degrees; champagnes like it much colder still. Don’t take your cues from me, though–check out this list of wine serving temperatures to learn more!
2. When You’re Buying Really Old Wines
I’m talking ancient vintage, fancy pants wines here, but the fact remains that over time, wines change and begin to develop a dryness in the bouquet from oxidation. The key to bringing out all of their subtlety is slow temperature control—about 50 degrees for red wine and about 55 degrees for white.
3. When You’re Tasting Multiple Wines At Once
Exposure to rapid temperature fluctuations can dull your senses, so when drinking more than one wine it’s best to keep them warmed up to a similar temperature by maintaining a room temperature between 64–68°F (18-20°C) or bringing them into this range slowly using an insulated jacket or a decanter with built-in heater.
4. If You’re Keeping A Wine Too Long
We’ve all done it. We keep a bottle of wine for too long and then we say, “Oh well, I’ll just finish the rest with dinner.” But don’t! Don’t do this to your old wines because if they begin to oxidize while at room temperature it’s very hard to reverse the process. Keeping your wine at around 45 degrees will help ensure proper aging conditions.
**Bonus tip: Keep white wines away from any sources of light and colors! This can alter their flavors.
TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN KEEP YOUR WINES AT THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK OR GOING THROUGH TOO MUCH TROUBLE
Given the recent climate, I’m sure there are a lot of people feeling like they could use a glass or two right about now (or several glasses). This leads to one issue that everyone has had to deal with- keeping your wine at the right temperature.
If you are not careful, you’ll end up going through bottles too quickly which leads to disappointing days when you get home from work and realize you can’t have that bottle of wine because it’s gone bad because it was left out all day.
So here is some advice on how to keep your wines at the temperature you want them for as long as possible without spending a fortune or having too much trouble doing it.
1. Buy A Wine Fridge Or A Thermoelectric Cooler
If you are planning on having a lot of wine, then you might want to consider buying a wine fridge or, if you don’t have the room for one, a thermoelectric cooler. Wine Fridges tend to be cheaper and more compact than thermoelectric coolers, but they do not work nearly as well at keeping the temperature consistent (though they are still better than nothing).
If price is an issue for you, however, then these can be good choices. Also, they make nice accessories when mixed with any decorating style.
Thermoelectric coolers use Peltier effect-based technology to keep your bottles at the right temperature by taking in heat from one side and giving it off on the other. They are not very effective for keeping a large number of bottles at a consistent temperature, but they do work, and some can be pretty cheap (you can get one that holds around 12 bottles for less than $50).
The only real problem is that you have to make sure that you keep it away from sources of heat (i.e., don’t put it next to your stove or in an oven) which leaves less room options for where you want to keep one.
2. Put The Wine In The Fridge (Technically, This Isn’t An Option)
If you don’t have much space, then this option might save you quite a bit of money over time because if you’re like me, you don’t always finish a bottle. This can lead to wine spoilage if you leave the unused portion out on your counter or table even for two hours or so before finishing it off.
You have to decide, however, whether putting it in the fridge means that it will be harder to get out (especially if you live with other people who eat things that require refrigeration and might cause the temperature inside of the refrigerator to fluctuate) and whether you’ll have cold enough temperatures in there for as long as possible.
In my experience, I usually like to save room in there for food I’m going to use soon so unless I’m planning on using them within a week or so of each other, I tend to hold myself off from putting wine in the fridge.
3. Choose Wines That Can Stand Temperatures Above 50 Degrees Without Losing Flavor Or Body
While it can be frustrating to hear people say that they are taking good care of their wines by letting them sit on a countertop, let me point out that there are wines that won’t lose much flavor if left at room temperature for several hours.
In fact, there’s even some evidence that those same wines actually improve flavor if left at these temperatures for a few days (these temperature fluctuations are perfectly normal especially in places where it is very hot or cold). So, what types of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay do you buy if you want to maximize what little flavor will still be available?
Some of the well-known wine regions with wines that are known to be good at warmer temperatures include Burgundy, Monterey (California), Washington State, the Barossa Valley in Australia, New Zealand, and many more.
As for specifics out of these places, there is a wide range of available bottles depending on your price point. But some of the most famous California Chardonnays that can still taste very good after extensive periods at room temperature include:
– 2013 Almondy Chardonnay ($19)
– 2011 Benziger Sonoma County “Olivet Lane” Chardonnay ($20)
– 2012 Bonny Doon Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($18)
A few more great options include:
– 2012 Emma’s Vinyard Chardonnay ($20)
– 2011 Rancho Zabaco Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay ($18)
And for Pinot Noir, which is even more sensitive to temperature swings and longer periods of exposure at warm temperatures, some of the better wines you can find that also have high enough alcohol content to still be good after sitting on a countertop all day include:
– 2013 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley “Artemis” Pinot Noir ($50)
– 2006 Grace Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($40)
As you can see from just these suggestions, there are quite a few really great bottles available. The only problem, however, is that there are a lot of other bottles that aren’t so great. This means you have to be careful in your selection process and do some research on the vintages available (if you didn’t buy them last year) to make sure they’re from a vintage that still tasted good even after being left out for several hours at warm temperatures all day.
4. Use Wine Chillers
One of my favorite products is one I discovered during a trip to Napa Valley back in 2014. At first glance, it seems like an ice bucket with small holes cut into it, but once I used it with my favorite bottle of wine, I realized what a truly brilliant product this was!
One of my favorite things about this chiller is that unlike ice buckets which usually come with plastic ladles or spoons for scooping out ice, the Wine Fridge gives me a nice wooden spoon as well as a simple drip catcher in case any spills occur. Finally, there’s also an optional ice pack accessory available for those who live in very hot climates.
Some of the other chiller options available include:
– Chillz ($50)
– Wine Enthusiast Chilling Machine ($100, but you have to see it to believe how incredible this product is!)
*Note that if you decide to buy any of these products, you want to make sure that they are actually meant for wine! Some of them work better than others depending on your climate and specific bottles being used at the time.
5. Marry Your Wine Glasses
This is something I picked up during my time living in France. If there is one thing that nearly every French person agrees on when it comes to wine, it’s that good wines should only be consumed from glasses designed specifically for red wines.
This is because it turns out that wine glasses are actually designed in accordance with the way wine tastes! For example, red wines have tannins which can be very harsh when drunk out of a glass that is too delicate.
The reason for this is that as your teeth crush the tannins on your tongue, they release their flavor into the air around you and that’s what makes drinking red wines so flavorful. However, if the glass you’re drinking from doesn’t have enough texture to grab onto these particles or if its surface area isn’t big enough (like in most white wine glasses), then your experience will just be an unpleasant metallic taste instead.
This is why I always recommend my guests use at least two different kinds of glasses when they drink wine with me. My favorite set is made by designer Libbey and includes:
I have two of each so that I never run out, but you could get away with just one if you’re serving a small party or date. If you really want to impress other people, then make sure the glasses are chilled before using them! This way, your red wines will taste even smoother than usual!
Some other useful tips for getting the most out of glasses include:
– Don’t store them upside down! They will explode easier (trust me…I know from experience).
– Keep them in cabinets where your dust and hairs don’t reach them! Storing them in rooms where there’s smoke or where your pets hang out is even worse!
– If you use your glasses often, then make sure to wash them at least once a week with soap and water. You don’t need to soak them or use any other special method. Sometimes I only do this once every two weeks or so just so that they don’t end up getting too damaged in the dishwasher.
6. Join A Wine Club
If there’s one thing Europeans know how to do well, it’s taken care of their wine! And while there are whole world markets which sell very affordable wines, some of the best stuff available can only be found by hooking yourself up with a wine club from France or Italy:
– Nicolas ($25/mo.): One of the most famous wine clubs out there, Nicolas offers a very high-quality selection of French wines. You can get them in as large or small quantities as you want every month. This is probably the best way to sample some fascinating new wines from Europe without having to actually pay for transportation!
– Club W ($15-25/mo.): Another good option, Club W provides both red and white bottles of wine that are “very drinkable” without being too boring. Shipping varies depending on how much you order and how fast you need it shipped (you generally have to take the standard rate).
– Wine Awesomeness ($19/bottle): You can also find some nice wines at WineAwesomeness.com. They usually have a good variety of French, Italian and Spanish wines for you to choose from. The only downside is that they charge shipping on all wine purchases and some varieties can be quite pricey (like the Opus One at $169/bottle). However, their selection tends to be pretty wide, and they often throw in free glasses or other bonuses alongside your order!
7. Stock Up On Ice Or Freeze Your Wines Before You Drink Them
– Keep fresh ice on hand: Having readily available ice before drinking will help keep the temperature of your wine down as you drink it and this will ensure that the taste doesn’t get damaged. I recommend preparing at least 6-8 cubes before each glass to enjoy the full potential of your wines!
– It’s okay to chill white wines: While some people may be under the impression that chilling whites makes them taste “watered down,” in reality, it simply removes any unwanted harsh flavors from them. This is especially true about really cheap sparkling whites which can be very bitter if you don’t chill them first.
There are also a number of special ice trays on the market (like this one) which are designed specifically for chilling wine glasses so that they never drip into your drinks.
CONCLUSION ON WHITE AND RED WINE STORAGE TEMPERATURE
Wine storage temperature is a topic of great debate among wine enthusiasts. However, as long as you have your wines stored in the appropriate location and keep them from being exposed to extreme temperatures, it really doesn’t matter what color they are.
We hope through this blog post, you had more information about how to store white or red wine so that they stay fresh for years longer than usual. We recommend visiting our blog post for more information. Thanks for reading and happy drinking!