You’ve heard you should serve white wines chilled, and reds at room temperature. But what does that mean exactly? In Florida, room temperature can rise to about 80F. Should I store reds in that heat? Of course not! Room temperature varies for different people. Likewise, chilled can mean different things too. We often keep gin or vodka in our freezer for refreshing summer cocktails. But put a beer in the freezer, and it explodes! (Trust me, we learned the hard way!) Don’t worry, I will go over the best temperature to store wine, as well as tips for serving.
However, don’t feel that you absolutely have to follow these rules. Enjoy your wine at whatever temperature you like. After all, rules are meant to be broken.
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The myth about the best temperature to store red wine
Contrary to popular belief, red wines should not be stored at room temperature. WHAT? To most people, room temperature is anywhere between 68-78F. According to Wine Insiders wine club, red wines should be stored between 55-65F, depending on the varietal. This is why people traditionally have stored wines in a wine cellar. Wines stored under ground would be at a more consistent temperature than those above ground, where the temperature that fluctuates with the seasons. Consequently, you should keep fruity, sweeter wines at cooler temperatures. Whereas you should store full-bodied red wines and port at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, I have to admit, I don’t follow these rules. I prefer to drink my red wines at a warmer temperature. This may be scandalous to some. But I feel like the flavor comes out more. I have tried drinking them slightly chilled, but I just don’t like them as much. And I like to drink red wines in the winter to warm me up, whereas I like chilled whites in summer to cool me off.
Best temperature to store white wine to entice your taste buds
Temperatures for white wines vary, depending on the type of wine you are storing. For sparkling wines, you should set your beverage refrigerator between 40-45 degrees. For drier, full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay, you can set the temperature a slight bit warmer, around 53 degrees. Wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Reisling fall somewhere in between.
However, serving temperature for white wines is a bit warmer than the temperature for storing wine. Remove white wine from the refrigerator around 20-30 minutes before serving to let the flavors come out.
Once again, I am a rebel and a rule breaker. Living in a hot climate, if I took my wine out of the refrigerator that long before serving, it would be too warm. Summer temperatures climb to the mid 90s here. You can imagine how quickly it will lose its chill. The wine would no longer be refreshing. Therefore, use common sense when storing and serving wine.
|Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Asti, Sparkling||45 F||7.2 C|
|Muscat, Rose, Riesling||47 F||8.3 C|
|Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon||50 F||10 C|
|Chardonnay, Viognier, White Burgundy, Chablis||53 F||11.6 C|
|Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Barbera, Grenache||55 F||12.7 C|
|Zinfandel, Chianti, Red Burgundy||58 F||14.4|
|Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec||62 F||16.6|
Bonus Material: 4 Commandments for how to store wine
We have a few more tips on storing wine so you can enjoy your wines to the fullest.
Temperature: Avoid wine catastrophe
While we already discussed temperature as the main focus of the article, there is something noteworthy you should know. Heat speeds up the aging of wine. Don’t make the mistake of storing your wine in the garage and thinking you can just pop it in the refrigerator prior to serving. The same goes for stopping off somewhere and leaving your wine in your trunk temporarily. I know, you are thinking, ” but its just for a few minutes”. Cars can heat up over 100 F quickly on summer days. If you want vinegar, buy vinegar.
Humidity: The plague of the cork
The wine is in a glass bottle so why should humidity matter? It doesn’t matter as much any more. Many wine makers have reverted to screw caps or non traditional corks which are more reliable. However, without humidity, traditional corks can dry out. This causes them to shrink, letting air into the bottle, in turn oxidizing the wine. To prevent this, you should store your wine bottles on their sides so the wine keeps the cork moist. The perfect humidity level for storing wines is between 50 and 70 degrees F.
Light: Everybody should put baby in the corner
Just like temperatures that are too high, sunlight can damage wines over time. Best to store them in an area away from direct sunlight. However, don’t make the mistake of storing your precious cargo in a closet. Closets often have poor circulation so temperature and humidity are less likely to be controlled.
The best way to avoid damage from sunlight is to drink your wine! Some wines are not meant to be aged. If it comes in a light colored or thin bottle, more light will filter through. Don’t save these for a special occasion. Your special occasion is Friday. You are celebrating that you put your kids to bed! Drink up!
On the other hand, wines with thicker, darker bottles receive less light. You can keep them around longer. But why would you want to! Wine is meant to be enjoyed. So unless you are a collector, share your wine with friends, food, and life.
Vibration: Don’t make your wine experience Armageddon
Vibration agitates the wine which speeds up aging. Over time, your wines might get skunky. Store your wine in a stable area, (not your traveling bar) so it doesn’t move around too much. For the average wine drinker, this won’t be a problem. But if you are moving, or transporting your wine someplace, use the packaging it came in. This way it won’t jostle around too much.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now about storing wines. Hopefully this cleared up some confusion and gave you a few guidelines to get the best tastes out of your wines. So you don’t miss out on my next wine tips make sure to sign up for my newsletter using the form below.
Donna Emperador is a creative blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and wine. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time traveling and making wine culture easier to understand for readers.