Wines should be stored between 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This range of temperatures is below room temperature, but above the temperature of a typical home refrigerator.
Additionally, the variation in temperature should be reduced as much as possible.
For example, a room which rapidly fluctuates between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit can still be a bad environment to keep wine, even if the temperature is still within the 45 to 65 degree range.
In addition to proper temperature, various other environmental factors should also be controlled to ensure a wain maintains its quality for as long as possible.
Types of Wine and Temperature
All wines should be kept in the 45 degree to 65 degree range. However, specific types of wines are best kept at slightly different temperatures, with white wines best being kept at temperatures closer to 45-50 degrees, and red wines best kept at temperatures closer to 60-65 degrees.
However, many wine aficionados may not have the equipment or resources to maintain four or five different temperatures to keep each type of wine at its ideal temperature. Because of this, it may be “good enough” to simply maintain a temperature within 45 and 65 degrees and keep one’s wines all at this temperature.
There are, however, wine refrigerators which can maintain different temperature profiles in different parts of the refrigerator.
Issues with Keeping Wine too Warm
Wine is made from grapes, meaning it is ultimately made from organic compounds. Like all organic compounds which lack enough preservative qualities, wine can spoil or degrade in quality when proper conditions are not maintained.
While alcohol does have preservative qualities, wine does not contain enough alcohol to allow it to avoid spoiling under any conditions. When the temperature of wine is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, enough changes to the chemical composition will occur to cause changes in the taste of wine.
Issues with Keeping Wine too Cold
Keeping a wine too cold can also be detrimental, although not to the same degree as excessively high temperatures. Freezing wine tends to negatively impacts its taste. A large reason this happens is because the wine cap will often dislodge under the expansion caused by the freezing wine. This exposes the wine to various environmental factors, to include oxidation and exposure to other flavors and chemicals in the immediate environment.
Even chilling wine too much without freezing it can be problematic. Keeping the temperature of a wine too low can prevent a wine from aging properly.
Many higher end wines rely on the aging process to bring out its flavors – keeping these wines in a very cold room can keep the wine from reaching its true potential.
Temperature to Consume Wine
Once wine is ready to be consumed, the issue of preserving taste becomes irrelevant, since the beverage will be consumed in a short amount of time. This means a wine can be consumed at whatever temperature the drinker would like, although most wines are typically served near room temperature.
How to Maintain Proper Temperature
There are several options for storing wine that will help maintain a proper temperature profile.
One option is to keep wine in a wine cellar. For people who have a basement in the house, this can be an easy way to store wine at a relatively stable and moderate temperature. There are several reasons why basements are good places to keep wine.
Firstly, hot air is less dense than cool air, meaning hot air rises inside of a house, while all the cool air will settle in the basement. Secondly, the ground and soil of the Earth maintains a much steadier temperature than the atmosphere, meaning the walls of the basement are less likely to fluctuate in temperature compared to the walls in the rest of the house.
For wine aficionados who like to take the wine cellar to the next level, various custom build underground storage containers can be built, to include custom made wine silos. Although building a basement or cellar specifically for the purpose of storing wine may be an option only available for people who can afford this, people who already have a basement have a good place to store all their wines.
A second option for storing wine is to buy a wine refrigerator.
Wine refrigerators start at around $200 in price, meaning cheaper models can be somewhat affordable to amateur wine enthusiasts. Many wine refrigerators also have specific compartments build for specific types of wine, meaning different types of wine can all be kept at their ideal temperatures.
Although this may be overkill for the casual wine drinker who buys wines shortly before consuming them, the more serious fan with higher quality, expensive wines may consider investing in such a refrigerator.
For those who do not have basements or wine refrigerators, a third option is to find a closet or shelf to put one’s wine. The downside to this is that it is much more difficult to control the temperature of the wine. However, the upside is that storing wine in a shelf or closet is a good way to keep the wine from being exposed to other environmental risks, discussed later in this article.
Storing wine in a normal refrigerator is probably acceptable for a short amount of time. This may be the best option available for people who live in abnormally warm house. However, there are a few downsides to keeping wine in a normal refrigerator.
First, standard refrigerators are normally kept at a lower temperature than the ideal temperature for wine (often in the low 40s). Moreover, refrigerators often are very dry, which can cause the cork to shrink, exposing the wine to oxidation. Finally, normal refrigerators are filled with various foods. There is always a risk that the flavor form these foods can leech into the wine, causing it to lose some of its original taste.
The very worst place to put wine inside a house is somewhere exposed to heat, sunlight, and vibrations.
Unfortunately, for many people, this is the first place they will decide to place their wine. Many people will place their wine in a very conspicuous position, such as somewhere visible in their kitchen or in their living room, exposing their wine to the very environmental factors which will cause them to degrade in quality over time.
Although it may be very tempting to put wine out for house guests to gawk at, the best option is to keep the wine hidden in a cool, dark place.
Other Storage Issues
In addition to temperature and temperature variation, there are various other factors which need to be kept in check to preserve wines properly.
Firstly, ultraviolet radiation (UV) breaks down many chemical compounds found in wine, which can negatively change its taste. This is the reason why most wine bottles are made of glass with various shades of brown and green.
Extreme humidity conditions can also be harmful for wine. An excessively dry environment can cause the wine cork to shrink, exposing the wine to oxidation. On the other hand, a room that is too moist can cause fungi and molds to grow inside the room.
Robustness of Types of Wines
Different wine varieties and brands can react differently to environmental conditions. Some wines may be cheap and low-quality to such an extent that environmental factors make a minimal difference to the taste. Some people may buy wines within days of consuming them, meaning environmental factors are less of an issue.
Among higher quality wines, some may be robust enough to endure environmental factors, while others may be very delicate and susceptible to temperature extremes. Although these differences exist, the safest option is to keep all wines in favorable wine storage conditions.
Wine should be kept between 45 degrees and 65 degrees to maintain flavor and quality. The higher end of this range is idea for red wines, while the lower end of this range is beneficial for white wines.
In addition to temperature, temperature variation, humidity, and light levels should all be accounted for to ensure a wine maintains its quality for as long as possible.