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 red wine characteristics that need to be considered to store and serve red wine correctly. Important factors to consider are the red wine type, the storage and serving temperatures, the storage humidity, and red wine storage environment.
Some of the most popular red 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 red 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., red wine can easily be damaged. Imagine it is August in the Arizona Desert; you stop to buy your red wine for dinner and leave it in the trunk of your car while you continue to shop for several hours. Your red wine will be damaged. You will not be able to undo the damage if you rush home and stick the red 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.
Red wines 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 red 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.
The more you refine your red wine storage and serving parameters, the more you will appreciate the quality of your taste experience. As popular as wine is becoming as an addition to our lives, I still recommend to everyone to buy the wine you like best, store and serve it the proper temperatures and enjoy it any time you want to. Wine refrigerators are designed today to address all the critical conditions needed to keep make your red wine storage easy and keep your bottles ready to enjoy.
Author: Ronald Senn, Vice-president, Ideal Wine Coolers
Ronald Senn is currently Vice-president of Ideal Wine Coolers. Ron served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-1970. Ron graduated from the University of Arizona with BS and MS Degrees. Ron is retired from the U.S. Forest Service after serving over 30 years.
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