Choosing the Right Temperature for Your Wine Cooler
Wine is a rewarding hobby that has some delicious benefits. Whether you’re just getting into the wine world or you’re looking to grow your current wine collection, there’s always more to learn about it.
One of the most hotly (cool-ly?) contested topics in the wine world is the temperature at which you should store wine. Many people have their own opinions, so it can be hard to sort through the noise to find the right answer.
I was curious about this myself, so I did some digging. In this article, I’ll go through what I learned about:
- Why Does Wine Need to Be Chilled?
- The Best Temperature for Every Type of Wine
- Can You Store Red and White Wine Together?
- What Humidity is Best for Storing Wine?
- How to Maintain a Wine Cooler
- What Type of Wine Cooler Is Best?
Ready to learn more? Then let’s get started.
Why Does Wine Need to Be Chilled?
Wine is a complex drink. The fermentation and aging process is delicate, especially in more expensive wines. Wines continue to age while they’re in the bottle, so properly storing your wine is important to maintaining its quality.
Temperature is an important part of wine storage. Heat causes wine to age more quickly, while lower temperatures cause it to age more slowly. Depending on the wine, you may want to chill it a little, or quite a bit. It depends on the wine.
No matter what, you need to keep your wine in a cool and dark place, though. Too much light and heat can actually cause your wine to break down. The alcohol and sugar ferments even further and turns a perfectly good wine into vinegar, ruining your investment. This is why it’s so important to store your wine properly.
The Best Temperature for Every Type of Wine
So, you know you need to keep your wine cool, but how cool? Every wine is different. According to the experts, white, red, rosé, and sparkling wine are all served best at different temperatures. Here’s the breakdown of what wines are best at which temperatures.
Out of all wines, red wine handles warm temperatures the best. Red wines are complex and have relatively low acidity. In order to get the full effect of full-bodied red wines like a Bordeaux, chill them to between 60 and 65 degree Fahrenheit. For the same reason, fortified wines like Port are best on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum, closer to 65 degrees.
The lighter-bodied the wine, the cooler you can keep it, so some Cabernets are best between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
White wines are more delicate than reds, with a higher level of acidity that benefits from cooler temperatures. In general, whites should be kept on the cooler end of the spectrum, between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are variations here, as well. Chardonnays tend to have more body than other whites, so they are best experienced around 55 degrees. On the other hand, light, fruity whites can be kept cooler, around 45 to 50 degrees, to elevate their lighter flavors.
Rosés tend to be lighter, fruity wines. That leaves them at their best around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Dessert wines and rosés benefit from the chill to bring their sweetness to the forefront without overwhelming the palate.
Of all wines, sparkling wine should be kept coldest. CO2 is best preserved at low temperatures, between 40 and 50 degrees. True Champagnes can shine at the top end of that range because they have a relatively full body. On the other hand, Prosecco or other light sparklers are best served at the very bottom of the range, around 40 degrees.
You may have noticed that all of these recommendations include a range of temperatures. That’s because no two bottles are exactly the same. As long as you’re keeping your wine in the right general temperature range, you’ll preserve its flavor notes and body. The fine detail, like keeping a certain red at 55 degrees or 60 degrees, comes down to your personal preference. If you drink wine regularly, it’s worth it to experiment with the temperature at which you keep your wine and decide what you like best.
Can You Store Red and White Wine Together?
Yes, there are a few ways you can store red and white wine together. There are two ways to do that. Either:
- Store both wines in the same cooler, or
- Get a dual-zone wine cooler.
The first option involves more work on your end, but if you already have a wine cooler, it’s the less expensive option.
Most wine can be stored at any temperature between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Except for sparkling wine, the specific temperature ranges for each variety are the temperature at which it’s best served, not stored. This gives you some wiggle room when it comes to storing wines together.
You can store your reds and whites together by setting your wine cooler’s temperature to 50 degrees Fahrenheit – perfect for most whites. Then, if you want to drink your red wine at the right temperature, you can just pull it out of the wine cooler and let it sit for an hour to warm up to 60 degrees before you drink it.
If you want to have your wine at the drop of a hat, you can get specific wine coolers designed for storing multiple varieties. These coolers are known as dual-zone coolers, because they have two areas set to different temperatures. You can set one side to 50 degrees, and the other side to 60 degrees, and your reds and whites will both be perfectly happy and ready to drink at the drop of a hat.
What Humidity is Best for Storing Wine?
Temperature isn’t the only thing that affects your wines in storage. Humidity plays a huge role in keeping your wine fresh.
Most wines that benefit from specific storage still use cork stoppers. Corks are effective at keeping wine from spoiling, but only if the cork itself is in good condition. That’s why humidity matters.
Cork is literally a piece of wood, a plug cut from a Cork tree. Like with most types of wood, it is very sensitive to humidity. Too little humidity and the cork dries out, letting air through to your wine. Too much air will lead to your wine spoiling and turning to vinegar, no matter what the temperature.
Best practices for wine corks recommend that you keep your wine stored at about 70% humidity, but between 60 and 80% is acceptable. Too much humidity can lead to mildew problems on your bottles, so finding a balance is important.
What Type of Wine Cooler Is Best?
If you’re on the market for a wine cooler, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of options. Choosing the right wine cooler can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what’s best. To narrow it down, you should look at the two main types of wine coolers: thermoelectric and compressor-based.
Compressor-based coolers work like a standard refrigerator. A compressor with a motor pushes refrigerant through a system. On the other hand, thermoelectric coolers use a process known as the Peltier effect to use electricity to pull heat out of the cooler through a metal plate.
Compressors are more energy efficient, because they only need to run when the cooler is starting to warm up. Thermoelectric coolers run constantly, using more energy. If energy costs are important to you, then compressors are definitely cheaper.
On the other hand, thermoelectric coolers are better for your wine in the long run. Vibration is bad for wine, because it stirs up sediment. Compressor motors cause coolers to vibrate and make noise, while thermoelectric coolers have no motors and don’t vibrate. If you’re storing your wine in a cooler for a long time, thermoelectric coolers are best.
The best type of wine cooler depends on what you want out of your cooler. If you’re looking for energy efficiency, compressors are the way to go. If you’re looking for long-term storage quality, then thermoelectric coolers will treat your wine better.
How to Maintain a Wine Cooler
Maintaining your wine cooler is important to keep it in good condition. A poorly maintained wine cooler will struggle to keep temperatures reliable. Luckily, maintaining your wine cooler is easy.
First, make sure your wine cooler is placed on a hard, flat surface, not on carpeting. Tile and wood floors or most counters are perfect. Carpet and rugs can block the cooler’s vents, causing problems and wasting energy as it struggles to vent out heat.
Once you’ve chosen a safe place for your wine cooler, you should clean it every few months. Because wine coolers maintain a humid atmosphere, wiping down the interior will help prevent mildew from forming.
Finally, if your cooler has a drip tray, empty it regularly. Standing water will lead to mold and mildew problems in your cooler in places that are hard to clean. Emptying the drip tray is an easy and quick way to keep things clean.
Keeping your wine properly can seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be hard. You can even store your red and white wines together if you understand the cooling process.
I hope this article has helped explain how to keep your wine cool effectively. Whether you have a dedicated wine cellar or just like to sip a rosé on the weekend, the right temperature makes all the difference.
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