One of the most popular questions wine drinkers ask when it comes to wine storage is if you can keep wine at room temperature. I mean simply putting wine on a wine rack and leaving it at room temperature is the easy thing to do. But this is a topic we need to dig into a little further. After all, if wine is something you enjoy, you may as well as learn how to properly store it to help it age to it’s finest.
Can you store wine at room temperature and for how long? While far from ideal, both white and red wine can be stored at room temperature (roughly 70° F) for years as long as you make some efforts to control air temperature, light exposure, vibrations, and humidity levels. Champagne can also be stored at room temperature as long as you chill it before serving, preferably in an ice bath.
While storing wine in a proper wine cellar or wine refrigerator would be the best scenario, you don’t need to invest in these expensive storage mediums to have great tasting wine. Let’s dig in further.
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Wine Store at Room Temperature
Red wine can certainly be stored at room temperature as long as the room doesn’t get too hot during the daytime in the summer and you keep the bottles out of direct light. For optimum results, red wine is best stored around 55° F, in darkness, and under low humidity conditions with the bottles laying on their sides to allow the cork to remain moist.
By storing red wine at room temperature and also not in a constantly dark room under controlled humidity settings, your wine won’t be nearly as robust and rich though. Countless people simply store red wine in wine racks at room temperature and they enjoy it.
Most people don’t own expensive wine cellars or wine coolers to properly store wine. While those things help wine long-term, they are not required at all.
White wine generally is ideally stored at slightly cooler temperatures than red wine but you can store white wine very easily at room temperature. A great temperature range for both red and white wine is about 55° F so, despite popular belief, you don’t need to store reds and whites separately.
Just like red wine, white wine is ideally stored inside a climate-controlled wine cellar or wine refrigerator to age the wine properly. Too many variables are out of your control when you store wine at room temperature that you won’t have to worry about in a wine fridge or cellar.
But I know a lot of people who store white wine without issue for months and years at room temperature and then pop the bottles in the kitchen refrigerator for 40 minutes to chill it before serving.
Champagne is famously known for being served chilled after sitting in an ice bath. While it is true that Champagne should be chilled before serving, it can be stored at the same air temperatures as other wines with ease.
Just make sure you keep the bottles out of direct light, preferably around 70% humidity, and as close to 60-65° F as you can achieve in your home without spending a fortune on AC.
Room temperature is loosely considered to be around 70° F which is a tad too warm for ideal Champagne long-term storage but it isn’t horrible either. I think as long as you chill your Champagne before serving a little longer, you will be in decent shape storing it at room temperature.
Before opening, wine can be stored just fine at room temperature just fine for a long period. As long as the cork has not been and the seal unbroken, wine can remain under regular room conditions just fine.
Now it is always best to store wine under ideal conditions in a wine refrigerator or wine cellar for optimum aging of the wine. Wine will still age under less than ideal conditions, but it can never achieve its true potential and richness while being stored in the open air in a kitchen or living room.
If you can’t afford or don’t have space for a true wine cellar, a nice wine cooler refrigerator can be a great option that will cost a small fraction of what you’d spend on a cellar and give you even more control over the climate settings of your wine.
While it would be preferred to put an opened bottle of wine in the refrigerator to keep it robust longer, you would be okay storing opened bottles of wine at room temperature for a couple of days after opening.
Many people prefer to simply put these bottles of wine in the refrigerator to keep them cool but I feel this is unneeded. As long as you put a good wine stopper on the bottle, you should be plenty fine drinking the wine a few days later.
That said, what refrigeration does offer opened wine is a slowing of oxidation that occurs when you pop the cork. As soon as outside oxygen is exposed to your wine, it starts oxidizing which can quickly degrade your wine.
By placing your opened bottles in a cool refrigerator, the oxidation process will be slowed down some perhaps giving you an extra couple of days per bottle to enjoy it. Refrigeration won’t work miracles but it can help some.
Aging Wine at Room Temperature
Wine can be aged at room temperature as long as conditions are favorable. Wine should ideally be stored between 55-60° F, about 70% humidity, in near darkness, and without any exposure to airborne chemicals or vibrations. These conditions are most commonly achieved inside a quality wine refrigerator of some kind.
These are the ideal wine storing conditions. Room temperature is commonly referred to around 70° which is warmer than the recommended setting but not overheating. Scientific studies performed by Pérez-Coello & colleagues (2003) and by Scrimgeour & colleagues( 2015) confirm that storing wine in warmer temperatures can negatively impact wine.
I think even more important than temperature consideration is to make sure your wine remains in the proper humidity levels and are stored in as dark of conditions as you can muster.
Now obviously if you store your wine in the kitchen, keeping it constantly dark is not possible. Some light exposure is fine and won’t damage the wine. What you want to be careful of is making sure direct sunlight does not hit the bottles.
Artificial soft lights are fine in moderation but long-term exposure to direct sunlight will alter the wine causing it to age irregularly and also could bleach the label which makes it look less-than-ideal.
Wine will age decently when stored at room temperature (around 70° F) but will never reach its true peak of richness and complexity as it could if stored under ideal storage conditions. If you want to store wine so it ages gracefully and keeps getting better and better, you should invest in a quality wine refrigerator if you don’t have space and money for a true wine cellar.
After Being Chilled
If a wine has been chilled, it is best to keep wine stored at a constant temperature and not warm it up and unless you are about to drink some. This means if you have had your wine chilled at a steady temperature of 50° F, you will want to keep it there until you are ready to pour some.
By taking wine chilled for some time and then storing it long-term at a different temperature range, you could negatively affect the wine and how it ages. Wine is best stored at a constant steady temperature for the bulk of its aging storage.
Even if these conditions mean the wine is stored slightly too cold or slightly too warm, from what I’ve learned, it is better to keep them at these fewer idea temperatures than it is to try and correct them later on.
Furthermore, room temperature is a little too warm for wine to be stored properly. By taking wine that was stored at too cold of temperatures and then storing them at slightly too warm temperatures, that cannot be good for the wine. If the wine is being chilled, unless you don’t have a choice and are running out of refrigerator space, my advice would be to keep it there until you are ready to pop the cork.
Let’s face it, wine is ideally stored at conditions around 55° F, under 70% humidity-levels, in darkness, and away from exposure to any harmful chemical fumes or vibrations. To achieve such controlled settings, a wine cellar or wine refrigerator is almost required. A wine refrigerator is a much cheaper and more practical option.
But make no mistake about it, people have been storing wine at room temperature forever and will continue to do. The wine most certainly can be stored long-term at room temperature, even Champagne.
If you don’t have the resources to acquire a wine fridge or cellar, just get a wine a cheap wine rack and do your best to at least keep the wine in a darker place away from vibrations and chemicals. No, wine stored at room temperature won’t age as gracefully and robustly as wine stored under ideal conditions, you will be fine. I promise you’ll be fine.
Scientific Literature Referenced:
Pérez-Coello, M., González-Viñas, M., Garcı́a-Romero, E., Dı́az-Maroto, M., & Cabezudo, M. (2003). Influence of storage temperature on the volatile compounds of young white wines. Food Control, 14(5), 301-306. doi:10.1016/s0956-7135(02)00094-4 (via: ScienceDirect)
Scrimgeour, N., Nordestgaard, S., Lloyd, N., & Wilkes, E. (2015). Exploring the effect of elevated storage temperature on wine composition. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 21, 713-722. DOI:10.1111/ajgw.12196 (via Wiley)