Lesson 6 Objectives: At the end of this lesson, you should know 1) what to look for when building or selecting wine cellars / storage facilities; and 2) which temperature will bring the best aroma out of a bottle of wine.
Wine Storage and Optimal Temperature
Temperature, the unseen and often neglected factor, can bring the best and worst out of a bottle of wine in 2 areas: storing and serving wine.
Storing wine and useful tips:
Sadly, many great wine collections have been damaged because of instability in temperature and moisture. High temperature (>65ºF) causes the wine to age prematurely, thus losing its flavor and balance. When chilled too cold, the wine also loses its flavor and aromas. Keep the wines away from sunlight and heat exposure; store them in cellars, wine fridge, and or temperature controlled rooms. Wide fluctuation in temperature will damage the wine and the cork. Ideal range of temperature for storing red wine is 50-55ºF or 10-16ºC. White wines can be stored at lower ranges at 45ºF. The serving temperature chart below provides optimal storing and serving temperature by grape variety.
Humidity is another important fine balance. If the humidity is too high, mold can grow and cellar woods and wine labels can be damaged. If the environment is too dry, the cork will crack and air will leak into the bottle, again ruining the wine. Ideal humidity for wine storage ranges from 60-75% RH.
- If you have a wine collection that you don't want to ruin but live in a very hot or cold environment, it is worthwhile to invest in a wine fridge or wine cellar. Alternatively, you can see if your local wine stores offer wine storage services.
- Store your wine horizontally so that the cork is moist. This will minimize the probability of the cork cracking and undesired air entering the bottle.
- Don't leave a wine bottle in the freezer. Frozen, the wine will expand and the bottle will explode.
- It is easy to ruin wine label in humid environment. You can put a plastic protectors on the wine labels to better protect them.
Serving temperature and useful tips:
Wines should be served at a temperature that best reveals its characteristics and aromas. The optimal serving temperature differs for various wines, depending on their grape variety and their region. For example, a rich, intense Bordeaux could be served 1-2 degree below room temperature (~18°C); but a light, fruity red such as Beaujolais is best serve at least 6 degree (~12°C) below room temperature.
- As with vodka, chilling a high alcohol red wine will smoothen its hot taste.
- When in doubt, serve the wine a few degrees cooler than room temperature. Richer aroma is released as the wine warms up to the room temperature.
- No wine should be served over 68ºF or 20ºC.