Wine Serving and Storage Temperatures 101
There is no hard rule to which temperature your wine should be at when storing. But the most preferred place is somewhere cool and dark to avoid sunlight and heat, an excessive amount of which could ruin any good wine.
As a general rule, the lesser the storage temperature and amount of light received, the better the wine will hold its quality over time and develop harmonious complexity.
Have you ever left fruit hanging around a little too long, just before it starts going off? Or left it in the sun and it developped a very harsh taste?
That’s because it probably started fermenting and/or oxydating, loosing its natural freshness. It’s essentially the same with wine.
But this doesn’t only happen once the bottle is opened, it can happen during storage too, the chemicals deteriorating under the influence of heat and light.
Like fresh fruit, most wines won’t benefit from serving at a temperature over 70F (21C). Most reds are served between 60F-68F (16C to 20C), with a little over that beginning to accentuate the wines flaws.
Much like in aeration, there is a very fine line between perfection and ruining your plonk:
- Red wine is usually best served just below room temperature, so that it still has some element of refreshment to it and not an overly warmed, boozy scent that makes the cheeks overly flushed. Serving red too cold results in a much more unpleasant acidic taste and more noticeable tannins. Red wine typically has aromas and chemical characteristics which are supressed or dimished at lower temperatures.
- White wine is enjoyed most from between 44F – 60F (6C to 16C). Where the wine serving temperature has gone down, the perception of acid increases, keeping it crisp and with that fresh feeling. Quite often we can go ahead and serve our white wines too cool, usually at a summer BBQ or at an event, making the mistake of using it as a refreshing drink which will inevitably make our cheeks and nose burn from the acid levels.
- Sparkling wines most commonly served at fridge temrerature around 38F – 45F (3C to 6C). There is a fear that serving it too warm could dissipate the bubbles and ruin its liveliness. The risk is avoided by being drunk straight out of the fridge, when in fact a sparkling could be allowed to develop and be enjoyed much more when allowed to stand for twenty minutes after being refrigerated. Serving your wine too cold and the wine becomes empty of scent and taste with no real expression. But too warm could risk the connotation of “flatness”. That being said, sparkling wines can be as varied and temperamental with their temperatures more so than any other wine, so it is worth researching the particular type of sparkling you want to enjoy before using a hard rule.