Welcome to our quick but thorough guide to white and red wine storage temperature. When it comes to wine, storage conditions matter, especially if you’re planning to lay down a few bottles for future enjoyment.
Wine has a relatively long shelf life. Most bottles are still okay three years after harvest, and some can evolve for decades! Still, the storage conditions are what ultimately determine your wine collection’s life expectancy. And although storing wine in a dark place, away from direct sunlight, heat sources and vibration matters, what matters most is the storage temperature.
What Happens to Wine if Not Stored Properly?
Why does wine’s storage temperature matter? Think of wine as the food in your fridge — it lasts longer at cold temperatures, simply because bacterial contamination and other natural chemical reactions are slower at lower temps.
Wine is constantly evolving, as acids, alcohols and sugars combine and break apart in a never-ending dance. Wine is continually changing, and although that change can make some wines more interesting over time, it eventually leads to an unavoidable decay. All wines turn into vinegar sooner or later. The colder the storage temperature, the slower the wine’s decline.
Store wine at cold temperatures, just above its freezing point, and it will last almost indefinitely. On the other hand, forget a bottle of wine in the trunk of your car on a warm summer day, and it will be ruined in just a few hours.
White Wine Storage Temperature
What temperature should white wine be stored at? The ideal storage temperature for both red and white wine is 10°C, emulating the temperatures in underground cellars in prestigious wine regions like Champagne. At this temperature, the wine is not completely static, but evolves slowly.
90% of white wine in the market is meant to be enjoyed young, up to three years after vintage. Others, like bold Chardonnays aged in oak, can evolve for up to a decade or more! As a general rule, more acid, alcohol, sugar and concentration mean a longer life expectancy.
Can you store white wine in the fridge? You can, as long as it doesn’t stay there for more than a few days (wine corks can absorb aromas from the surrounding food). Fridge temp which is 39°F / 4°C, is actually an ideal serving temperature for crisp and fruity white wine. You want to serve bolder white wines closer to 50°F / 10°C.
The bottom line: The best temperature to store white wine is 50°F / 10°C for long-term storage. Storing white wine in the fridge is okay as long as it’s just for a few days.
Red Wine Temperature Storage
What temperature should red wine be stored at? The best storage temperature for red wine is 50°F / 10°C. However, since red wine is more concentrated than white wine, you can store it at higher temperatures of up to 61°F / 16°C. Keep in mind the warmer the cellar, the faster the wine’s evolution and eventual decay.
What temp should red wine be stored at? A steady temperature between 50 to 61°F (10 to 16°C) works for most cellars. Of course, young, fruity red wines will reach their peak after 3-5 years, even at the right temperature, while more concentrated reds will evolve for over a decade.
As for serving temperatures, light and acidic red wines like Pinot Noir are best enjoyed close to 50°F / 10°C. Full-bodied red wines like Cabernet are perfect at 61°F / 16°C. For reds, cellar temperatures align with serving temps.
The bottom line: The best temperature to store red wine is anywhere between 50 to 61°F (10 to 16°C). The warmer the temperature, the faster the wine’s evolution.
Store Wine at the Right Temperature and Become a Collector!
Now that you know what temp to store red wine and how to take care of your white wine, it’s time to start building that cellar. Create a collection of red and white wines at home and have something for every occasion; that’s the beauty of it!
Store wine correctly and never drink oxidised wine or wine past its prime ever again. Enjoy wine at its fullest — be good with your wine, and it’ll be good to you!