Red Wine Temperature Storage - Best Practices & Mistakes To Avoid
by Jennifer Kristensen on Mar 10, 2023
If you want your bottles of red wine to last for years in storage, you need to ensure that you’re using the correct temperature settings. This will ultimately help ensure you can store your red wine collection for years without suffering issues like oxidation or aging.
This article explains everything you need to know about red wine temperature storage. Aside from giving all the information you need to store red wine properly, we also explain the mistakes you should avoid and what can happen to your red wine with improper care.
How to Store Red Wine
You should store your bottles of red wine in the proper temperatures to help them last for as long as possible. To start, it’s important to note the ideal temperature for red wine. If you’re storing the bottles long-term, you should keep them at 55°F. The serving temperature for red wine ranges from 55°F to 65°F.
You should ensure that your wine is always kept at a consistent temperature until you prepare to serve it. If the red wine is exposed to a lot of temperature fluctuations while it’s being stored, it can quickly oxidize and age.
You must consider a few other factors to store wine properly. You should have a proper wine cellar or wine cooler to store your red wine. The red wine should be kept on a horizontal wine rack to reduce the risk of sediment stirring.
Ideally, you should isolate your red wine from all vibrations to further reduce the risk of the sediment being disturbed. If possible, you should use a thermoelectric cooling system rather than a compressor-based one. There should be no large electrical appliances near where your wine is stored.
The wine will need to be kept in ideal conditions. The room's humidity level should be within the range of 50 to 80%. The ideal humidity level is generally considered 60%, as this will prevent the wine corks from drying out while still preserving the wine bottle labels.
The light level should also be kept low in the wine cellar or wine fridge where you keep your wine. If you have a wine cellar, you should install a light fixture with a sensor or timer that automatically turns the light off whenever someone isn’t inside the cellar.
Why Is Storing Red Wine at the Correct Temperature Important?
Storing red wine at the correct temperature is essential because the temperature is one of the most important determinants of how a wine ages. If your red wine is exposed to extreme or fluctuating temperatures, it will quickly age and oxidize.
If the red wine is exposed to temperatures above 70°F, the bottles will quickly start to warm up and lose their distinct flavors and aroma. With time, the seal and cork will be weakened enough by the heat that the wine begins to oxidize and spoil.
Low temperatures aren’t dangerous to a bottle of red wine, but they can harm the natural aging process and make it more difficult to tell what condition a bottle of red wine is in. You won’t be able to reference standard aging timetables if you keep your red wine below the recommended temperatures.
How to Serve Red Wine
While the ideal red wine storage temperature is low, it’s recommended to serve most varieties of red wine closer to room temperature. Here is the ideal serving temperature for each red wine type.
- Full-bodied red wine should be served at temperatures of around 62 to 65°F.
- Medium-bodied red wine should be served at a temperature range of 58 to 62°F.
- Light red wine should be served at a temperature range of 55 to 58°F.
- Dessert red wine should be served at a temperature of around 57 to 60°F.
- Sparkling red wine should be served at a temperature range of 46 to 50°F.
Why Is Serving Red Wine at the Correct Temperature Important?
Serving red wine at the perfect temperature is important because the temperature is one of the most important influences on the flavor and aroma of the wine. The flavor and aroma will be substantially reduced if the wine is served at the incorrect temperature.
When red wine is served at the correct serving temperature, you’ll quickly see exactly why the temperature is recommended. The aroma will gather within the glass without becoming subdued or overwhelming. The flavors within the wine will be heightened by the balance of fullness and crispness that the correct temperature gives.
Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Red Wine
- Never allow your red wine to be exposed to direct sunlight. Any type of light is damaging, but direct sun is particularly potent. Direct sunlight can ruin an average bottle of red wine in just two weeks, even with the tannins protecting the wine.
- Don’t try to use your refrigerator for long-term wine storage. You can get away with using your fridge to store open bottles of red wine for a few days, although you’ll need to allow them to warm back up to the proper serving temperature. You should never attempt to keep your red wine in the fridge for long-term wine storage. The dry and cold fridge will quickly dry out the corks and cause oxidation. The compressor in the refrigerator and frequent opening of the fridge door will also disturb the sediment in the wine.
- Make sure your wine is stored at the proper temperature. As mentioned before, the bottles will quickly oxidize and spoil if your red wine is exposed to fluctuating temperatures or extreme heat.
- Don’t age every bottle of red wine. You should research each wine bottle to determine how long the wine is meant to be aged. Most wines in stores are meant to be consumed within a year after purchase.
Storing wine properly is one of the most important things you can do as you build a collection. As long as you use the guidelines and techniques in this article to store your red wine at the right temperature, you’ll find that every bottle of pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon you pull from your wine rack tastes better than it did new.