How to Store and Serve Wine
Collecting wine is not just about having a large selection of bottles, it's a passion. Whether you are into white wines like Riesling or Chardonnay or prefer the bold and full bodied flavor of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, keeping your wine at the right temperature will help extend the life of your wine. Knowing how to preserve or serve wine isn't hard. Take advantage of our expert advice, hints, tricks and tips to help you get the most from your wine cooler. Simply print our chart as a resource to properly serve your favorite wines.
The biggest enemies in preserving wine are the heat and sun. Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine faster than is usually desired. If it gets too hot, your wine may get cooked, resulting in flat aromas and flavors. Also, temperatures too low can also result in dry corks, bitter taste and a loss of flavor. Steady and consistent temperatures is the key to keeping your wine at its ideal flavor. The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F. Many wine enthusiasts believe that 55° F is the ideal storage temperature for both wine cellars and wine refrigerators.
What is the Right Serving Temperature for Wine?
Sadly, each bottle does not come with a list of instructions, but we've made it easy for you. White wines should be chilled before drinking while red wines should be allowed to come up to room temperature. If you already have a wine storage solution that keeps your collection at 53-57°F, refrigerate your bottles of white wine a half hour before serving and take your reds out of storage a half hour before serving. This allows time for your whites to chill and your reds to warm up. A white that is too cold will be flavorless and a red that’s too warm is often quite flabby and alcoholic. Each wine has an ideal serving temperature, so it's best to follow these rules of thumb.
|Wine type||Desired chilling temperature|
|Champagne, Sparkling, and Dessert Wines||40°F|
|Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio||45–48°F|
|Chardonnay and Chablis||48–52°F|
|Red Sparkling Wines||50–54°F|
|Beaujolais and Pinot Noir||60–64°F|
|Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz||64–66°F|
Other Wine Tips
- Light is the biggest problem for long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. Household light bulbs probably won’t damage the wine itself, but can fade your labels. LEDs and tinted glass doors are the ideal features for wine coolers.
- Wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70 percent. Dry air can cause the corks to dry out, letting air into the bottle and spoiling the wine. On the other hand, extremely damp conditions can allow mold to form. This won’t affect a properly sealed wine, but can damage the labels. Using a dehumidifier can fix that problem.
- Bottles should be stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid against the cork to keep the cork from drying out.
- Vibrations also can damage wine in the long term by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. Significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them gritty.
- If you need to chill a bottle of white wine quickly, get an ice bucket or large container, fill it with ice. Then add water to the bucket and stir in a few handfuls of salt. The salt causes the ice to melt at a lower temperature, resulting in water becoming colder, faster. Twist the bottle every few minutes, and in 10 minutes the wine will be perfectly chilled.
- If wine is too cold for serving, pour the wine into a decanter that has been rinsed in hot water or immerse it briefly into a bucket of hot water. If the wine is only a little cold, just pour it into glasses and cup your hands around the bowl to warm it up.
- To open sparkling wine turn the bottle while holding the cork tightly. This process puts strain on the bottle instead of the cork, reducing the chance of breaking the cork.
- Wine should be stored and chilled away from sources of heat, light and vibrations. These can disturb wine sediments and disrupt the aging process. A cool, dark closet or basement is a great place to store wines if you do not have a wine cooler or wine cellar.
- Red wine stains can be reduced by pouring a generous amount of salt on the stain and applying light pressure. Pat the stain down, then leave it alone for 10 minutes. Afterward, scrape away the salt and thoroughly blot the stain with club soda. If the area is carpeted, dry it with a paper towel. For a linen stain, wash it while it is still damp.