Wine Storage Temperature  View Wine Cooler Models >>

Wine Storage Temperature

People tend to serve white wines too cold and red wines too warm. White wines too warm will taste alcoholic and flabby, while white wines too cold will be refreshing but nearly tasteless. As for reds, keep them too warm and they will taste soft, alcoholic and even vinegary. Too cold and they will have an overly tannic bite and muchless flavor.

Here is how to be confident the wine you serve will be on its best behavior:

Champagne and other sparkling wines should start out totally chilled. Put them in the refrigerator an hour and a half before serving or in an ice bucket with an ice-water mixture at least 20 minutes before serving. For vintage-dated Champagne and other high-quality bubbly, however, you should let the bottle then warm up a bit if you do not want to miss out on the mature character for which you are probably paying extra.

Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, white Zinfandel and other refreshing white wines should also be chilled to refrigerator temperature(usually 35 to 40 degrees) for an hour and a half before serving. But the better examples, such as barrel-aged wines like Fume Blanc (made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes) will improve if brought out 20 minutes early or allowed to warmup slightly during hors douevres or dinner.

Chardonnay, white Burgundy and other rich,full-bodied and barrel-fermented white wines of high quality taste their best at classic cellar temperature, or 55 degrees. Winemakers in France's Burgundy region know what they are doing when they offer tastes to visiting journalists and wine buyers directly from the barrels of Chardonnay in their cool, humid underground cellars. So put these into the fridge an hour and half before serving, but bring them out 20 minutes early to warm a bit.

Sweet dessert wines need the same treatment as Sauvignon Blanc, above, with the exception of fortified dessert wines like Portand sweet Sherry, which are better at cellar temperature or warmer. Treat dry Sherry like Sauvignon Blanc, too.

Almost all red wines show their best stuff when served at about 65 degrees cool, but warmer than cellar temperature. This is not room temperature, unless you happen to live in a Scottish castle or in San Francisco during July. So if you don't keep your red wine in a cool cellar or cooled storage unit, you will enjoy it more if you chill it for 20 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

To serve your wines at the appropriate temperature, you might consider investing in a quality wine refrigerator or a single bottle wine chiller. With a wine refrigerator, you can store many bottles of wine at their optimum temperature. With a single bottle wine chiller, you can quickly (and gently) bring a single bottle of wine to the appropriate temperature no matter where the wine has been stored.