The Best Temperature to Store Wine

At one point or another, every wine drinker has faced the question: “What temperature should wine be stored at?”

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer. It all depends on the type of wine and how long you plan to store it. If you plan to drink the bottle within a few months, then room temperature is absolutely fine. But if you plan to keep a bottle of wine for a number of years or decades, (we all have that one bottle tucked safely away for a special occasion), then there are some simple guidelines you can follow.

red wine in a storage fridge

What Is the Ideal Temperature to Store Red Wine?

The ideal temperature to store red wine is at cellar temperature, which is between 12°C (55°F) and 18°C (65°F).

Storing red wine at a consistent temperature within this range helps to preserve its flavour and aroma. High temperatures (warmer than room temperature) can cause the wine to age prematurely and develop “off” flavours, while low temperatures can slow down the ageing process and prevent the wine from developing its full flavour.

It’s also important to store red wine in a relatively humid place (around 70% humidity), as low humidity can cause corks to dry out.

If a cork dries out, it can have a catastrophic effect on the wine it seals. As a natural and porous material, cork is subject to the effects of humidity and temperature. If a cork isn’t kept moist, it can become brittle and shrink, creating gaps between the cork and the bottle’s neck. This allows air to enter the bottle, which can lead to oxidation and cause the wine to spoil and lose its character.

The role of a cork in wine preservation is crucial, particularly for wines that are intended to age gracefully. The cork allows for a small amount of oxygen to enter the bottle, which aids in the ageing process by gradually breaking down the wine’s tannins and other compounds, resulting in a smoother, more complex wine.

It’s also important to keep the wine away from direct sunlight. When wine is exposed to sunlight, the UV rays can interact with the wine’s compounds, causing them to break down and degrade. This process, photo-oxidation, can cause the wine to age prematurely, thereby losing its complexity and nuance. The wine’s colour can also be affected, with white wines becoming darker and red wines losing their vibrant hues.

white wine in a storage fridge

What Is the Ideal White Wine Storage Temperature?

The ideal temperature to store white wine is between 7°C (45°F) and 10°C (50°F).

As with red wine, storing white wine at a consistent temperature helps to preserve it. Excessively high temperatures can cause white wine to age prematurely and develop oxidised or cooked flavours, while low temperatures can cause the wine’s delicate flavours and aromas to become muted and subdued. This is because low temperatures slow down the chemical reactions that give the wine its distinct character. The cold can also cause the wine to lose its natural acidity, making it taste flat and unbalanced.

So, while it’s tempting to store white wine in the fridge, it’s not the best long-term option because it’s much too cold. Instead, consider investing in a wine cooler or finding a cool, dark place in your home to store your white wine.

sparkling wine in a storage cabinet

What Is the Optimal Sparkling Wine Storage Temperature?

The optimal temperature to store sparkling wine is between 3°C (38°F) and 7°C (45°F).

Higher temperatures than this can cause the wine to age prematurely, resulting in the loss of carbonation. Very low temperatures can cause the wine to freeze and expand, which can push the cork out of the bottle or even cause the bottle to explode.

To maintain the quality of sparkling wine, it’s also best to store it in a dark and vibration-free location. Sunlight and movement can negatively affect the wine’s flavour and carbonation.

wine in a storage cabinet

How Long Can You Store Wine?

The length of time you can store wine depends on several factors, including the type of wine, its quality, and the storage conditions.

Generally, most wines should be consumed within a few years of their vintage date. Some lighter, more delicate wines, such as white or rosé wines are best consumed within a year or two of their vintages, while some full-bodied red wines can be aged for several years, even decades.

Wines with higher acidity and tannins, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux, can be aged for longer periods of time than lighter, fruitier wines such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

If in doubt, always research the specific wine you have and its recommended ageing potential before deciding how long to store it.