The magic temperature to store wines is between 55-61 degrees Fahrenheit (12-16° Centigrade). However, any temperature between 40-65°F (5-18°C) will do as long as it remains a constant temperature all the time.
The degree of and the speed of the temperature change is critical. A gradual change between summer and winter of a few degrees won’t matter however the same change over a day will harm your wines by prematurely ageing them too rapidly.
When you are storing wine, always avoid large temperature changes or rapid fluctuations. One way to identify damage of this nature is from the sticky deposit that often forms around the foil or plastic capsule. Over time the continual expansion and contraction of the wine will damage the ‘integrity’ of the cork. It’s like having the cork pulled in and out again every day. When this happens, minute quantities of wine may be pushed out along the edge of the cork (between the cork and the bottle neck) allowing air and oxygen to seep back in. Once the air is in contact with your wine the irreversible process of oxidation has begun and your wine is ruined.
A quick way to check for this is to remove the capsule. Do not do this if you are keeping the wine for investment purposes as this harms the appearance and thus the value of the wine. Do this only if you are interested in keeping great drinking wines in your own cellar. Should you find this condition you can replace the cork or in the case of reds simply transfer to a new bottle thus leaving the sediment behind.
Higher temperatures will age wine more rapidly and cooler temperatures will slow down the ageing process. At 55°F - 61°F (12-16°C), the wine will age properly enabling it to fully develop. Heat will generally speed up any chemical reaction and this is simply all that is going on in the bottle, a slow controlled chemical reaction that improves your wines.
That doesn’t mean you can keep your wines in the oven for a week and end up with fantastic wines. Just the opposite; Irreversible damage is done if your wine is kept at over 82°F (28°C) for even a month, however even a steady storage temperature of 70°F (21°C) is better than temperature that goes from 45°F - 65°F (7°C to 18°C) and back again every day. At 55°F (12°C) wines will age so slowly, and develop such fantastic complexity that you will never have to worry about them.
With white wines, they are affected by temperature far more than red wines. Cold stabilization is part of the white wine winemaking process with the wine chilled to 25°F (4°C) for a few days. This precipitates out the impurities in the wine. You may have noticed small crystals or grains in the bottom of a white wine you’ve had in the fridge for a while. This is due to the wine not being cold stabilized during the wine making process. This is not a real issue. It is a part of the winemaking process.
Don't store a bottle of sparkling wine (Champagne in some parts of the world) in your fridge for that special day. If you do, when that day arrives there may not be much to celebrate with. Keep the bubbly in the fridge for a day or two but no longer as the cork may dry and slowly let the bubbles out of the bubbly. Any longer than that and you should take it out of the fridge and put it back in your cellar.
Heat damage to wines causes changes in appearance and taste. The color is largest clue to what has happened: A brick red brown color, especially in a young wine can be an indicator of oxidation damage due to heat. A Sherry flavor in wine other than Sherry can be a another good indicator of both accelerated oxidation caused by heat as well as from cork damage as Sherry is allowed a controlled oxidation during its ageing and blending process.
Can I use standard refrigeration equipment for my wines?
Commercial refrigeration equipment is both cheap and easy to find, there’s plenty of it for sale second hand and everyone seems to know someone selling something. But it’s not the best for storing and aging wine.
The four main reasons why:
• It’s designed for food products - Standard refrigeration equipment is designed specifically to look after food products, not to store your wines. What
works for T-bone and veggies is not the best thing for your expensive wine.
• Designed to cool quickly - Standard commercial refrigeration equipment has to cool things quickly to stop them from spoiling. Usually by blasting cold air to reach a desired temperature, the system then works like a switch. Once a set temperature is reached, standard refrigeration equipment shuts off until the temperature rises to a pre-determined point cold cold air is blasted in again. This continuous up and down temperature cycle isn’t good for your wines.
• Designed to remove heat and moisture - Standard refrigeration equipment is designed to remove heat and moisture from food products. Heat has to be
quickly removed to stop as well as moisture from incoming air which will in turn promote the formation of molds and mildews. The resulting environment is too cold and dry for wine. This will cause wine corks to shrink and oxygen to get in. Once oxygen can get in, wine can get out and your wine could be ruined quickly.
• Built to a price not a standard - Commercial refrigeration equipment is designed to be price competitive; cheap to build and cheap to replace, so vibration, noise and appearance aren’t high priorities. Vibration will eventually destroy a fine wine. A wine cellar is a real conversation piece and you’ll always have people ‘inspecting’ your collection. Something that’s loud, shaking and looking decidedly industrial will detract from the appearance of your wine cellar.
GT Systems Corp is able to supply integrated environmental control cooling systems specifically able to monitor the ambient temperature and humidity via state of the art thermostatic and humidistatic sensors; cooling, heating & humidifying needed to maintain the optimum storage conditions 24 hours a day, every day. Designed with the cellar and situated to provide both high performance and ease servicing, a GT cellar is never complete without a quiet and dependable environmental control unit.
When tasting wines the very first thing you do is look at the wine. What’s the color like? Dark? Light? Then you swirl it around the glass and sniff the wonderful aromas. Only then do you have a sip to savor the rich flavors. The aroma comes from the wine warming up and giving off vapors. To control this vaporization as it heats up so you should always serve at slightly less than room temperature.
But what is "room temperature" in an age of central air and radiant heating? There’s a huge difference in room temperature between the mountains in winter and the beach in summer so if you cannot control the room, control the wine! Below is a list of what has been found to be advisable wine service & drinking temperatures for a variety of wines.
Wine Serving Temperature Guidelines
Temp F Temp C Notes
100° 39° Warm Bath
68° 20° -
66° 19° Vintage Port
64° 18° Shiraz and other red wines
63° 17° Red Burgundy, Cabernet
61° 16° Pinot Noir
59° 15° Chianti, Zinfandel
57° 14° Tawny/NV Port, Madeira
55° 13° Ideal storage for all wines
54° 12° Beaujolais, rose
52° 11° Sauternes
50° 10° Most white wines
48° 9° Chardonnay
47° 8° Riesling
45° 7° Champagne
43° 6° Ice Wines
41° 5° Asti Spumanti
39° 4° -
37° 3° -
35° 2° Fridge Temperature
33° 1° -
32° 0° Water freezes
0° -18° Freezer Temperature
Summary: Store your wines between 55°F - 61°F as constantly as possible.
Keep it at a cool constant temperature