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Understanding Wine Temperature: Cellaring Vs. Service

Wine temperature plays a significant role in the way your favorite varietals taste. Every wine requires particular temperature conditions for storage and service to create the perfect flavor profile. In this post, we'll explore the difference between wine cellaring temperature and wine service temperature to help you learn how to serve and store red, white, and sparkling wines.

Wine Cellaring Temperature

A Climate-Controlled Wine Cellar

Unbeknownst to many, wine storage temperature and service temperature are not the same. The objective of wine cellaring is to keep the wine aging gracefully until it's ready to serve.

Wine is a living, breathing product and it should be stored in a way that will optimize its development, and your enjoyment, down the road. High temperatures can cause a wine to age prematurely, while low temperatures can halt the aging process entirely. An ideal cellaring or long-term storage temperature to address these concerns lies between 55 – 60°F.

Almost equally as important as the wine cellaring temperature is the consistency of the temperature. Fluctuations in temperature can cause the wine to expand and contract, leading to changes in pressure inside the wine bottle. These changes can compromise the integrity of the cork, allowing air to seep into the bottle and oxidize the wine. Oxidation can result in the wine becoming flat and lacking in aroma and flavor. Furthermore, temperature fluctuations can cause premature aging or, in some cases, spoilage of the wine.

A great solution to maintain an optimal wine storage temperature is to keep your wine in a climate-controlled wine fridge or wine cabinet. For larger wine collections a properly constructed wine room with a wine cellar refrigeration system is highly recommended.

Have a small wine collection or limited budget for climate-controlled storage solutions? Choose an area in your home that is the least sensitive to temperature fluctuations and away from natural light, typically a basement.

Hot Tip (literally): Avoid storing wine in the kitchen! This is the area of the home with the most volatile temperature fluctuations. Don't, just don't do it!

Wine Service Temperature

Proper Wine Service Temperature

 A wine's serving temperature plays a key role in the aroma, flavor, and texture of the wine. Get the most bang for your buck and enjoyment of your wine by serving it at the ideal temperature. Check out our list below for details on various varietals.

Red Wine

In general, red wine is ideally served at room temperature. Keep in mind though, this recommendation was originally proclaimed many years ago when homes were kept cooler than they are today (think: drafty old English castle). Depending on the specific varietal, a slightly warmer or cooler temperature is recommended. See below for a list of some of the more popular varietals and their recommended service temperatures:

Lighter Bodied Reds (eg. Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir): 55°F

Medium/Full Bodied Reds (eg. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah): 59 - 64°F

Is your home warmer than 64°F? We’re guessing many will answer “yes” so if you’ve got a bottle of red sitting out on the counter, make sure to give it quick chill in the fridge or dunk in an ice bucket before drinking. This will let you enjoy its flavour profile to the fullest!

White and Sparkling Wine

The ideal serving temperature for white or sparkling wines varies a bit more than for reds. In general, you should enjoy white wine chilled, and more so than any red varietals. Here’s a helpful list of recommended service temperature by varietal:

Sparkling Wines: 43 – 50°F (the chill is really important for appreciating their effervescence!)
Sweet Wines (eg. Ice Wine, Dessert Wine): 43 – 45°F
Light/Medium Bodied White Wines (eg. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris): 45 – 50°F
Medium/Full Bodied White Wines (eg. Chardonnay): 50 – 55°F

So what are you drinking tonight? Perhaps time to get the ice bucket ready?!