Of all the potential factors that can affect the taste of wine, temperature is one of the few wine lovers will agree on. Wine temperature can show the best side of an exceptional wine, or render a complex glass dull.
Finding the optimal temperature for storing your wine collection is actually quite simple. Aim for a temperature of around 55 degrees F, whether that’s in a cellar, a dark room, or a wine fridge.
To learn more about wine storage and why temperature matters, check out this guide.
Does Temperature Really Make A Difference To Wine?
The temperature at which you serve and store wine can actually make quite the difference to the final taste. The right temperature can bring out all the subtleties and complexities of a good glass of wine.
But serving at the wrong temperature can do the opposite. And storing at the wrong temperature can destroy wine entirely.
Wine enthusiasts can come up with some intricate rituals for serving wine, which can often lead to plenty of debate. For example, I believe a good swirl can really open up a wine, while others think decanting is a waste of time.
But there’s one thing all wine lovers can agree on — it must be at the right temperature. (Even if exactly what that temperature should be might still cause some argument.)
Temperature at serving affects taste, but storage temperature determines the longevity and health of your wine bottles.
Proper Temperature For Red Wine
Red wine can have an intense body and a deep flavor that is a joy to discover. But one thing that can ruin the complexities of a red is the wrong temperature. Red should be slightly warmer than white, but nowhere close to hot.
Red wine is best stored at a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Before serving, give it a chance to warm up slightly. Red wine should be served between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red wine can also benefit from having a chance to breathe, so you can use this time period to get your wine to optimum temperature and structure.
Should You Keep Any Red Wine In The Refrigerator?
Red wine should never be kept in the refrigerator. When red wine gets too cold, it can seem overly acidic and full of tannins. Cold red wine can also lose its aroma, and really flatten the taste.
But with that said, some lighter red wines do perform better at a cooler temperature. Pinot Noir is an aromatic red with notes of berries and anise. Served chilled, at around 55 degrees F, Pinot Noir can become exceptional.
Getting the exact right temperature for a red can be tricky. Fresh from storage, they might seem a little too chilled and need a moment to warm up. If you’ve been keeping your reds in a cellar, then this might be necessary.
But if you’ve been keeping your reds at room temperature, they might be a bit too warm. Put the bottle in the fridge for roughly 15 minutes to achieve the ideal temperature.
A red that’s too warm can taste strongly of alcohol and will lose the subtle layers. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the bottle is cold.
Proper Temperature For White Wine
It’s often recommended that you serve white wine chilled. And while this isn’t necessarily wrong, it isn’t quite accurate either.
White wines do typically need to be served at a lower temperature, but you want to store your whites the same way you store your reds. Keep your decent bottles of white at a temperature of roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.
White wine likes to be cool, so before serving, give it a chance to chill slightly. The optimum serving temperature for white is between 45 and 50 degrees F.
Coming out of the cellar, it might need a moment to chill in an ice bucket before you open it to serve.
Should You Keep White Wine In The Refrigerator?
If you want to quickly bring a chill to your white wine, then you can put it in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes. But don’t let it sit in there for too long.
A refrigerator can bring your bottle of wine down to a temperature closer to 35 degrees F, which is much too cool.
Chilled white wine opens up the complexities. The acidity and the sweetness will be in balance, the aromas can still come through, and the body has some bounce.
Warm white wine lacks any bite, and the balance is ruined. Sweetness becomes sugary, and that wonderful sharpness goes flabby.
Cold wine, on the other hand, is dull. Aromas turn flat, and the flavors are muted.
What’s The Problem With “Room Temperature”?
Many of us are used to serving our wines at room temperature. For reds, this has been standard for a long time. But did you know that by serving at room temperature, you might be serving your wines far too warm.
Room temperature has been a guide for wine serving for centuries. And in the course of those ensuing years, our homes have changed quite a lot.
An old stone home, warmed by fires and lamps, would stay pretty cool on even the warmest of days. Our centrally heated, well insulated, and comfortable modern homes can be very warm even in the middle of winter.
So, what we consider “room temperature” is actually quite warm. Instead, aim for a temperature somewhere between a cellar and a living room. Think somewhere between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Storage Tips For Wine
- If you do want to give your wine a quick chill before serving, make sure not to forget about it in the refrigerator. Too long at these low temperatures can really destroy all complexities, and leave you with a dull wine.
- 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect storage temperature, but a few degrees either way won’t cause serious problems. Especially if you’re planning on opening the bottle quickly.
- More important than the exact temperature is the consistency. Wine bottles benefit from a steady temperature that won’t cause the drink to react and change.
- Storage temperatures are essential if you plan on keeping your wine for over 6 months. Over this long-term storage, fluctuations can cause the wine to react, and the flavor to degrade.
- If you have wine bottles with corks, correct storage is critical. Store your bottles of wine horizontally, and preferably angled downwards slightly. This can keep the cork from drying out. A steady temperature, not too low or too high, is also essential to keep that cork in good shape.
- Experiment with temperature when it comes to serving your wine, but not with storage. Taste counts for a lot, and some types of wine benefit from experimentation. Full-bodied white wines can appreciate a warmer temperature, while a lighter red can be better cool.
- Don’t have anywhere to store your wine? Consider investing in a wine refrigerator. These are designed to be the right temperature.
There are many factors to consider when storing wine. Temperature is only one of them. You need to think about the humidity level, light, and vibrations as well.
The optimal storage temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, although a few degrees either way won’t cause major problems. Take more care when it comes to serving temperature. This can greatly affect the flavor.