The best temperature to store wine

By Mark Adams

Mark is the founder of amber crest winery, a professional winemaker, an author and frequent speaker on wine. He teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

People do some crazy things when it comes to wine.  I talked to a woman a while back at a wine class and we were talking about the best temperature to store and serve wine.  I asked her if she liked here reds at room temperature or slightly chilled?  She responded in a matter of fact way…”I microwave my wine for 60 seconds”.

Huh?????

OK, I was waiting for the punch line that never came.  The class fell silent.  They had the same reaction I did.  We were all perplexed.  The lady went on to say she just likes her wine the same as her coffee, which is almost boiling hot.  OK, to each their own.  I finished the class but couldn’t get the comment out of my mind.

I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t want to miss out on anything so when I got home, I poured some wine in a mug and put it in the microwave for a minute.  My expectations were extremely low.  I let it cool slightly and took a sip.  Well, you’ve heard me use the expression bitter beer face.  Imagine the worst bitter beer face you’ve ever seen times about a gazillion.  That’s what it tasted like.

Have you ever heard the term cooked wine?  It means a wine has been exposed to heat for a prolonged period of time, spoiling the wine.  The wine had lost its flavor and was extremely bitter.  “Cooked Wine” simple breaks down the flavor molecules and just destroys the taste.  This is what can happen if you don’t store your wine at the right temperature and your wine gets hot.

So OK, now that we know what not to do to our wine and how heat can spoil it, so how do we keep and store wine so ya don’t have to make the bitter beer face when you taste it?

Very simple and here’s what you do.

Take your wine out of the car as soon as you get home.

The biggest enemy of wine is heat.  Never leave your wine in the car for any prolonged period of time.  Remember in the summer the temperature can be well over 100 degrees in your car.

Once you get your wine inside, keep it away from a window that gets direct sunlight.

Keep it away from the top of the refrigerator.  It’s really hot up there and if left long enough, it will go bad.  Use the wine store as your cellar!!

Try and find a cool dark place.  Your basement would be ideal.  If you don’t have a basement, the bottom of a pantry would be fine.  Remember heat rises and the floor is always cooler than the rest of the room.

The shelf life for most modern wines is 2-3 years.  Most wines today are meant to be consumed as soon as you purchase them.  They won’t benefit from any additional ageing.   Use the wine store as your cellar!!

Lastly, its best to store your bottles on their side.  This keeps liquid on the bottom of the cork, which keeps the cork from drying out, shrinking and letting air get in your bottle and spoiling your wine.

Well, there you have it, taking care of your wine is actually pretty easy.

So what is the best temperature to store wine?

Somewhere around 55 degrees is ideal.  55 degrees is the same temperature as underground caves that have been used for centuries to store wine.  Since probably nowhere in your home is 55 degrees, a simple solution is to go buy an inexpenisve wine refridegator and set it to 55 degrees.  Most electronic stores carry these and many are under $100.

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