Red Wine Storage

There are many different types of wine and probably just as many different ways to bottle and market great vintages. Many of my personal favorites are a part of the red wine family. There are some unique wine characteristics that need to be considered to store and serve reds correctly. Important factors to consider are the wine type, the storage and serving temperatures, the storage humidity, and wine storage environment go here.

Some of the most popular wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Grenache grapes are often used as a blending additive when wine making from other grapes and are one of the most planted red wines in the world, especially in Spain and France. Other wines that are not as well-known but deserve mention are Barbera, Malbec, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Gamay. Syrah and Shiraz wines are made from the same grape, but are developed using uniquely different grape processing techniques. The modern era has brought an increasing popularity for red organic wine, produced with no fertilizers or chemicals.

The best rule of thumb to use for red wines is to store them at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees F. When temperatures approach 90 degrees F., wine can easily be damaged. Imagine it is August in the Arizona Desert; you stop to buy your wine for dinner and leave it in the trunk of your car while you continue to shop for several hours. Your wine will be damaged. You will not be able to undo the damage if you rush home and stick the wine bottle in the freezer. That action of moving your wine from one temperature extreme to another will also cause damage to it. Alexander J. Pandell has written an excellent article on How Temperature Affects the Aging of Wine that is worth reading.

Wine bottles are best stored in a wine fridge, bottles properly racked in a horizontal position and with the temperature precisely regulated. The horizontal position will insure that the cork won’t crack or leak from drying out. Relative humidity should be around 70 percent. Leaking corks can cause premature oxidation of the wine. Disturbance of the bottles should be minimized to the best of your ability, particularly if you intend to age them awhile. Look for slide out shelving in your wine cooler appliance to make access to your bottles easier and to minimize movement of the other stored bottles. Your storage appliance should be placed out of direct sunlight to maximize your wine cooler’s ability to hold a constant temperature.

Most red wines should be served at room temperature, which means an average of 60 to 65 degrees F. If the wine is served too warm, the taste will be dominated by the alcohol and if it is served to cold, it will definitely be less flavorful. Red sweet and sparkling wines should be served much colder than room temperature, about 45 degrees F. Lighter reds like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel should be served around 60 degrees F. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, full bodied red wines, are best when served at 65 degrees F. Use the serving guidelines, but good wine tasting often comes down to personal preference in balancing flavor and alcohol taste. It is best to experiment on your own when serving your favorite red to find your personal temperature niche.