Having the proper red wine storage temperature is equally, if not more, important than getting the proper serving temperature.
Why the Correct Red Wine Storage Temperature Matters
Some may think that storing red wine at the proper temperature is sort of a wine snob thing, but it isn't. Many a bottle of expensive reds have been rendered undrinkable because the owners of these wonderful bottles didn't take the time to learn the correct red wine storage temperatures. Here's why getting the right temperatures for your red wine is important when you're not planning to drink the bottle right away:
- Light - Red wine bottles are made of dark colored glass for good reason… to keep the light out. When wine is exposed to light, whether sunlight or artificial light, it begins to oxidize and age prematurely.
- Heat - Just like light, exposure to heat causes wine to oxidize and prematurely age.
- Humidity - If a wine storage room is too humid, mold and mildew tend to form on the bottle and the label. If wine is stored in a room that is not humid enough, then the cork dries out and air gets into the bottle causing oxidation and runs the bottle of wine.
If you aren't an avid wine collector and just happen to have bought or received a few nice bottles of wine you plan to hold, you probably don't want to go through the expense of buying a wine refrigerator or building a wine cellar in your home. You can store wine in other places of your home, but not for as long as you can in a wine refrigerator. Here are the two best places:
- Basement - Store your wine away from any appliances like washers, dryers and hot water heaters. Place it on the floor, as the temperature near the floor remains the coolest and the most constant, in a dark closet or corner. Your wine will keep for one to two years if stored this way.
- Closet - If you don't have a basement, store your wine in the bottom of a dark, rarely used closet. Be aware that you don't want to store your red wine in a closet for more than a year.
Where Not to Store Red Wine
As mentioned above, you don't want to store wine near any heat source whatsoever. That being said, the kitchen should not ever be a consideration for wine storage. Even if you have a beautiful bakers rack with a wine rack off the bottom shelf, resist the urge to store your red wine bottles there. The heat and humidity fluctuations from a running refrigerator, stove and dishwasher ruins red wine over time.
The Optimum Storage Temperature
The optimum red wine storage temperature for red wine is 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 to 16 degrees Celsius. A slight temperature fluctuation is fine and won't damage the wine itself, but you do want to keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum. Wine, like anything else, expands and contracts as temperatures rise and fall. A constant change in the temperature causes a constant expansion and contraction and chemical reactions begin to occur, mainly, oxidation. Keep in mind that this is more likely to happen for extreme temperature fluctuations over a period of time.
Wine Storage Options
There are a few wine storage options on the market that aren't expensive and effectively keep your red wine stored at the proper temperature and humidity level. Here are a few suggestions:
- Countertop wine chillers - These chillers are small enough to fit on an average-sized countertop and are far less expensive than a large wine refrigerator. Most countertop wine chillers hold anywhere from four to 12 bottles of wine at once and have programmable temperature and humidity controls.
- A small refrigerator - Small refrigerators work in a pinch because you can control the temperature and often the humidity levels. This should be a short term solution until you purchase a countertop or under cabinet wine chiller.
Wherever you do decide to store your red wine, here's a final tip:
- Always store your red wine bottles on their sides. This prevents the cork from drying out, thereby, preventing…you guessed it, oxidation.