Did you know that not all wine is meant to be aged?

Today we are talking about how to determine if your wine is meant for long-term or short-term storage as well as the proper serving temperature. We hope you find this guide helpful and that it will enhance your wine drinking and storage experience.

LONG-TERM VS. SHORT-TERM STORAGE

How Do You Know if Your Wine is Meant for Long-Term or Short-Term Storage?

As a general rule of thumb, most of the wine you have purchased from big box stores are meant for short-term storage and should be consumed within a year of purchase. If you have paid a premium price for the wine or have been instructed by the winemaker to place your wine in a cellar, it is meant for long-term storage. Generally, wines from the “old world”, namely Europe, are meant to be cellared. These wines will require specific conditions to ensure they age properly.

What Are Long-Term Storage Conditions for Wine?

If you have determined that your wine is intended for long-term storage, you will need to create an environment that mimics the wine caves of France. This usually entails the following conditions:

1. Darkness: Harmful UV rays can negatively affect the way that wine ages and change their flavors.

2. Wine racking: Wine should be rested on its side with the liquid touching the cork. This will ensure that the cork remains moist, preventing any unwanted oxidization.

3. Humidity: Cellars should be humid, but not so humid that mold starts to form. Again, this is to keep the corks from becoming dry.

4. Consistent temperature: A steady 55◦F is the ideal temperature for the long-term storage of wine. If the wine is stored inside a space that is too warm, it will age very rapidly.

5. No movement: The wine should sit undisturbed to allow the sediment to settle. Any unwanted vibration may cause a chemical reaction that affects the way the wine ages.

understairs glass cellar
Residential Under Stairs Wine Cellar by Vinotemp

The best way to store wine long-term is in some form of a cellar. This can be a designated wine room with a cellar cooling system, insulated walls, and wine racking. Another alternative is to have a custom wine cabinet that has many of the same features as a wine cellar. If you are lucky enough to have a basement with a consistently cool temperature and humidity, you may just need to add racking that stores the bottles on their sides.

What Are the Short-Term Storage Conditions for Wine?

Most of your wine collection may be intended for short-term storage. This is because most wine on the market, particularly here in the United States, is meant to be consumed within a year after purchase. If you have your own wine cellar, you can store these wines there until you are ready to drink. The majority of wine lovers are not fortunate enough to have space or a budget for a wine cellar and must find an alternative.

Like wines that were intended for cellaring, inexpensive wine likes to be stored at around 55◦F. Even though you will be drinking the wine in the near future, humidity still plays a role as the corks should stay moist to prevent seepage.

You may be thinking about just popping your wine inside your kitchen refrigerator, but your fridge is far too cold and dry for short-term wine storage. This is because most kitchen refrigerators are set to 40◦F, which is perfect for milk and last night’s leftovers, but too frigid for wine. Smells inside your refrigerator from garlic, onions, and any cooked goods can also permeate the cork of the bottle and spoil the wine. For these reasons, it is better to store wine in a separate location, outside of the kitchen refrigerator.

A wine cooler is a perfect place for wine that was meant to be uncorked within a year. Wine refrigerators are designed to mimic the conditions of a traditional cellar. While they do not create humidity, they can retain it, unlike a standard refrigerator. Wine fridges have racking that will hold your bottles horizontally to keep the corks wet, a compressor or thermoelectric cellar cooling system, digital temperature control panel, lighting, and dual-paned glass doors which will help to protect your bottles from harmful UV-rays.

installed backlit commercial unit

SERVING TEMPERATURES

A wine refrigerator also comes in handy when bringing wine to serving temperature. The proper serving temperature largely depends on the varietal or style. Red wine tastes its best when chilled between 58 to 65◦F. White wines are usually at their best between 45 and 55◦F. You can program the temperature inside a wine fridge to match the needs of the varietals you are placing inside. If the wine refrigerator has multiple independent temperature zones, you can use one zone for storage and the other for serving temperature. Check out the chart below for a more in-depth look at specific varietals and their ideal serving temperature.

Wine Serving Temperature Chart
CELCIUS
FAHRENHEIT
WINE STYLE
19
66
Armagnac, Brandy, Cognac
18
64
Full-Bodied Red Wines, Shiraz
17
62
Tawny Port
15
59
Medium Bodied Red Wines
14
57
Amontillado Sherry
13
55
Light Bodied Red Wines
12
54
Full-Bodied White Wines
11
52
Medium Bodied White Wines
10
50
Rosé, Light Bodied White Wines
9
48
Vintage Sparkling
8
46
Fino Sherry
7
45
Non-Vintage Sparkling

*These temperatures should only be used as a guideline.



You can also bring your wine to serving temperature using a number of different methods that do not involve a wine fridge. You can place the bottle of wine into a bucket filled with ice and place a thermometer on the bottle to read the temperature of the bottle. Use a chilling decanter with a reservoir for an ice cup, which will cool the wine without diluting it. If you prefer an iceless method, try a champagne chiller, display chiller, chilling wrap, or a chilling stick with pourer. If you must warm the bottle, pour the wine into a decanter and let it sit at room temperature until it is at its ready to drink. There are many ways to chill your wine to serving temperature when a wine refrigerator is not an option.

Do you have more questions about short-term and long-term wine storage? Please feel free to contact our experts at 1-800-777-8466 or email [email protected].