Everyone who drinks or serves wine needs to know about wine storage and serving temperatures. The information is simple. If you scroll down, you’ll find a wine serving temperature chart, and it can help guide you. There are also a few extra tips in this article about serving wine – especially about aging it, as long-term storage needs are different than short-term.
Aging wine in long-term storage conditions requires some knowledge to get started. Most wines sold are made with the idea that they’ll be consumed quickly – within about a year. This means most wines won’t necessarily gain from being aged. Wines that are designed to be aged are fewer and farther between. Honestly, there are fewer people picking wine up for aging than picking it up to drink it that week.
When you find wines that are appropriate for aging, remember these tips for long-term wine storage and serving temperatures:
- Ultraviolet rays will change the flavors in wine negatively. Wine shouldn’t be stored in an area that has regular sunlight or that has daily exposure to light at all. This is why so many stories and folk tales involve wine cellars. Not only are they moody settings for dark and stormy nights, they’re also typically below ground because this naturally limits their exposure to light.
- The temperature should remain cool and steady. This means the temperature should remain 55 degrees Fahrenheit, within about two degrees up or down. Any colder and the aging process won’t proceed under ideal conditions. Any warmer and your wine may not hold well over time.
- Humidity is desired. This often strikes people as a strange combination with such a cool environment, but corks can dry out and allow air into the bottle – this disrupts the aging process. Keep humidity as close to 70% as you can.
- There’s a reason bottles are stored on their sides. This also helps keep the cork moist. Any other kind of top but a cork, and the wine isn’t a good candidate for aging.
- Wines develop sediment over time. How those sediments slowly interact is key to the aging process. The bottles should be kept still and not moved around too often. They shouldn’t be near anything that can cause vibration either. This disturbs that sediment formation and disrupts aging.
Suffice it to say the above elements are not all easily achieved. Some strike it lucky with conditions in their basements or have access to a cellar. For others, one or more of these conditions is too far out of step to make aging reasonable. In these cases, a room that has environmental controls is a must. Of course, that can be expensive. You can see how this already limits the accessibility of aging wine. Make sure that it’s something you learn about and want to step into before you do so.
Are Wine Refrigerators Worth It?
Serving wine soon after getting it is a lot more reasonable than aging it for most. Short-term wine storage and serving temperatures are much easier to achieve.
For this, a small wine refrigerator can help you keep your wine at an ideal temperature at about 55 degrees. This is suitable for both red and white wines.
Many people chill their wines in a regular fridge, but this isn’t optimal (though it’ll certainly do when you have a bottle you will enjoy within the week). Regular refrigerators are set to 40 degrees and designed to eliminate humidity. That makes them much too cold and dry. Even for short-term storage, this can impact the flavor of your wine negatively.
Wine refrigerators are designed to keep wines at about 55 degrees consistently, and to retain an ideal humidity.
Red Wine Serving Temperatures
The rule of thumb is that red wines should be served at room temperature. However, this is actually a little too warm. At 68-70 degrees, alcohol will evaporate. A bottle of red wine should be slightly chilled. Just how chilled depends on the nature of the red wine in question. This is where a wine serving temperature chart comes in very handy.
More complex reds should be served at about 60-65 degrees. This includes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, syrah, and zinfandel, among others.
Lighter reds should be served slightly cooler: between 55-60 degrees. Keep in mind this means that you can serve cabernet franc, grenache, pinot noir, or tempranillo soon after taking it out of a wine fridge.
White Wine Serving Temperatures
Chardonnay and Bordeaux blends are perfect in that 50-55 degree range, right out of the wine fridge. Riesling hovers right at 50 degrees.
It gets even cooler than this. A good pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, or bright rosé should be served as cool as 45 degrees. Still use a wine fridge to store them, but for serving this may mean about 15-30 minutes in a regular fridge just before you pour.
You don’t need anything too fancy or complicated to remember the details about wine storage and serving temperatures. Just consult the wine serving temperature chart below to remember this information.
Remember that you may want to make your own adjustments. Everyone has their own preferences, and will discover a wine they actually prefer slightly warmer or cooler than the guidelines for wine storage and serving temperatures. This article is a place to start, but if you really prefer your wine at different temperatures, then serve it that way! It’s your wine, and no one can stop you!
Wine Serving Temperature Chart
- Cabernet sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
- Pinot noir
- Chenin blanc
- Pinot gris
- Sauvignon blanc
- Ice wine
- Sparkling wines