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What Temperature Should Wine Be Stored At?

Reference this in-depth guide to learn about how to store your favorite red and white wines. We're breaking down wine storage by the type of wine, including Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay and more.
Temperature Wine Should Be Stored At

Does Temperature Really Matter?

Over 8,000 years of wine cultivation, storage and drinking has taught us that hundreds of factors affect the overall outcome of a certain vintage, with temperature being one of the main players. Wine aficionados and scientists have studied wine storage for actual centuries, discovering that certain grape varieties come alive—and stay alive for longer—when stored and enjoyed at certain temperatures. In fact, Bronze Age vintners stored their early wines in clay amphoras (tapered ceramic containers with slim necks) and buried them to keep them at the right temperature, which was slightly chilled. Even the earliest wine-makers knew that too much heat could destroy a wine's delicate flavor.
Anyone who's serious about buying, enjoying and sharing wine should learn how to store wine and at what temperature to store it.
Wine Bottles Stored in Cellar
If you're weighing whether or not to invest in that wine cooler you've been eyeing, go ahead and pull the trigger, because yes, temperature definitely does matter. Too much heat or cold can damage the beverage on a cellular level, leading to a host of different problems. In general, wine should be stored at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less, always in a cool, dry place with a stable temperature. Here are some specific ways temperature affects wine:
  • Quality—Wine can get completely ruined if it's exposed to extreme temperatures for too long. At just over 80° F, fresh oxygen can start to invade the headspace as the cork seal breaks. Temperatures in the mid 80s can cause browning and a drop in the sulpher dioxide level which can lead to oxidization and growth of unwanted yeasts or bacteria. To check and see if your wine has been exposed to too much heat, smell it. If it smells like raisins or has a distilled burnt aroma or taste, it has probably suffered heat damage. Wine is a bit more tolerant to extreme cold, but freezing it can cause oxidation and can even cause the bottle to explode.
  • Flavor—Of course, one of the biggest threats to a poorly stored bottle of wine is compromised flavor. Keeping it at the proper temperature helps preserve and enhance the grape's flavor, while too much heat or cold can permanently change it. Freezing your wine isn't a good idea because the bottle itself wasn't designed for it, but the cold will only change the flavor slightly. Heat, on the other hand, can completely alter (and ruin) the flavor of your wine.
  • Damage—Both extreme heat and extreme cold can cause damage to your bottle of wine. If you put it in the freezer for too long, it becomes oxidized, which can cause the cork to expand and push out or the glass to crack. Sparkling wine is definitely a do-not-freeze item, as it can explode in the freezer and cause a huge mess (and a lot of waste). High temperatures can also do serious damage to your bottle, including leaks, breakage and melting. Corks tend to push out in the heat, which can cause the top to leak or overflow.
  • Stability—Wine is the poster child for things that age well. The logic is sound: Wine is already fermented, so it can't possibly go bad, right? In fact, wine does have a shelf life, though it's years long when properly stored. If you expose your wine to even slight elevations or dips in temperature—both stable and fluctuating—you can expect to shave years off its shelf life.

Ideal Temperature for Red Wine

Wine Bottles on Store Display
Ideal Serving Temperature for Red Wine: In general, it's advised to serve red wine at "room temperature", but that's usually a bit too warm. In practice, red wine is best served between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it should be served slightly cool (though not chilled) for the best results. Serving reds warm can zap them of life and spunk, while serving them chilled can cause them to taste too acidic. Reference the list below for precise storage temps by variety.
Ideal Storage Temperature for Red Wine: Closed bottles of red wine should be stored in a cool, dry area somewhere between 45 and 65 degrees. Most wine cooler units can be set to the mid or upper 60s, so they make fine storage options for all your reds. When stored properly and poured through a wine decanter, nothing beats a glass of red wine!
Ideal Red Wine Temperature Graphic
  • Cabernet: 60°—As one of the world's most-grown grape varieties, we know a lot about how to store and serve the perfect glass of cab. The rich, full-bodied flavors of a good Cabernet will be noticeable between 55 and 65 degrees, but 60 is regarded as ideal.
  • Pinot Noir: 55 to 60°—Pinot Noir differs from other red wines in that it's stored and served just a little bit cooler. That's because it's a lighter bodied red that benefits from a crisper temperature that preserves the airier, more delicate flavor of the perfect Pinot.
  • Shiraz (Syrah): 60 to 65°—This dark grape variety, primarily grown in Australia, is full-bodied with a large amount of tannins, making it a hearty dry wine bringing warm flavors of smoke, pepper and tobacco. As a result, it should be served closer to room temperature.
  • Malbec: 60 to 65°—Coming to us principally from Argentina, Chile and California, Malbec is a dry red wine marked by its inky, red hue and robust tannins. Malbec is best served in the typical red zone, just slightly below room temp.
  • Merlot: 60 to 65°—The same goes for Merlot, which will reach its peak flavors and aromas when served between 60 and 65 degrees. The plummy, soft flavors of Merlot really come to life when stored in this medium zone, while the acidity and alcohol will come to the forefront if served even a few degrees too warm.
  • Zinfandel: 60 to 65°—This black-skinned grape variety is a California staple known for its dry, fruity flavor. Soft, fruit-forward wines thrive in middle-of-the-road temperature zones, so this is yet another red to put in the 60 to 65 compartment.
  • Red Blends: 60 to 65°—We didn't forget about all you blend lovers! Since these well-loved formulas mix the most popular red varieties, it's best to serve them at the average temperature. This includes your favorite Bordeaux, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes.
  • Red Dessert Wine: 60 to 65°—Red Dessert Wine, Port Wine and Madeira are in a category of their own, but temperature-wise, they match up with the rest of the red group. Note that white dessert wine—including ice wine and sherry—should be served chilled.

Ideal Temperature for White Wine

Removing White Wine from Fridge
Ideal Serving Temperature for White Wine: One of the biggest differences between red and white wine is that white wine is generally served chilled, somewhere between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Serving white wine at the ideal temperature will increase its aromatics while preserving the flavor, which should be more refreshing and lighter when compared with red varieties.
Ideal Storage Temperature for White Wine: The goal of storing white wine should be to preserve its flavor and quality while preparing it to be served at any given time, so you can pop it out of the wine refrigerator or temperature-controlled wine cellar and immediately open it and serve it. As such, white wine should be stored near serving temperature or slightly cooler (so it can warm to the ideal temperature), somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees. If they start off at room temperature, you can get your white wines to the ideal zone by chilling them in the fridge for a half hour.
Ideal White Wine Temperature Graphic
  • Riesling: 45 to 50°—This chilled white wine mainstay comes to us from Germany's Rhine region and is well-known for its dry, sweet and aromatic flavor. It's best served chilled to closer to 45 degrees to bring out the punchy sweetness of the grapes.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 45 to 50°—Originating in Bordeaux, this green-skinned grape stands out from other varieties because of its herby, botanical flavor. But it also brings a distinctly fruit-forward profile—think lime, peach and apple—which categorizes it as a more refreshing white, which should be chilled to between 45 and 50 degrees for the best flavor.
  • Chardonnay: 50°—Grown and cultivated all over the world, Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world—found across the globe. It's beloved for its versatility and ability to take on a range of flavors—dry, sweet, crisp, sparkling, creamy. It's best served right at the 50-degree mark, where its aromas will shine their brightest.
  • Pinot Gris: 45 to 50°—The gray-purple grape known as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a varietal wine, meaning it's often used as a blending component and that flavors and aromas vary by the region where it's grown or the style it's used to make. Still, almost all Pino-based wines should be stored at the usual white temp zone for the best results.
  • Champagne and Sparkling Wine: 45°—Champagne and sparkling wine are best served on the cooler end of the spectrum. When warmed up, the bubbles can expand and cause the wine to become frothy. The crisp, effervescent flavor of sparkling wines really shines through at around 45 degrees, so keep that ice bucket nearby!
  • Rosé: 50°—Not to be pigeon-holed, Rosé wine doesn't classify as a red or a white, but as something in-between. This applies to its color—pinkish because it incorporates some of the color from the grape's skin, but not enough for it to classify as a red—and to temperature. It's happiest on the upper-end of the white zone, but not warm enough for the reds
  • White Dessert Wine: 45 to 50°—Dry sherry, ice wine and other dessert wines are meant to be served chilled, much like their main-course counterparts. Traditionally served as an aperitif or after dinner with dessert, these sweet wines really come to life when served on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Finding a Versatile Solution

Friends Toast with Wine Glasses
If you're like most wine-lovers, you tend to stock both reds and whites. Even if you only drink one variety, it's great to have options on hand for your guests. To simplify wine storage and serving of tons of different styles and varieties, we recommend investing in a wine refrigerator that has multiple cooling zones, featuring several different compartments for storing wine at different temperatures. That means that you'll be able to store all your best whites at chilled, serve-ready temps right next to your perfectly stored red wines, housed just below room temperature.
We have wine coolers and beverage centers that have between one and six distinct temperature zones, so you can store beer, soda, mixers and more right next to your red and white wines—all in a single unit. At Abt, we're happy to help you build a home bar or beverage station that suits your needs, budget and sipping preferences! Don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions about selecting the right one.

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