I have written in the past about storing wine in your refrigerator. After seeing a number of bottles Mrs. Tiedemann had stored in our fridge in the garage I thought I needed to revisit the subject. I assume the bottles have been in there for a long time, so what is the chance the wine is still good? Slim. Standard refrigerators can damage wine after three to four weeks. You need to be very watchful if you use your fridge to store or chill your regular or sparkling wines.
Like most food products, long exposure to cold, be it a refrigerator or elsewhere, will slow or stop ripening. In the case of wine, cold stops its aging.
Let’s examine refrigerator storage. Most kitchen type refrigerators maintain a temperature somewhere between 35 and 42 degrees and have relatively low, if any humidity, levels. The recommended temperature you should store your wine at is between 55 and 60 degrees, preferably at 55 degrees. Let’s examine optimum wine serving temperatures. Here are my guidelines:
- Chardonnay should be served between 55 and 60 degrees
- Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling between 45 and 55 degrees
- Champagnes and Sparkling Wines at 45 degrees
- Light Red’s between 55 and 60 degrees
- Cabernet and Merlots between 60 and 65 degrees
As you can see, wine serving temperatures are well above the normal refrigerator temperature range of 35 to 42 degrees. So what’s the big deal you ask? When wine gets too cold it stops the aging process and, if stored for long periods of time, may damage the wine. Young wines are much harder and less likely to be effected by the cold temperatures. Older or more mature wines may not handle the colder temperatures as well as younger wines.
It’s best to invest in a wine refrigerator if you can. They are designed to maintain a beneficial temperature of 55 to 58 degrees and a humidity level of 57 to 60 percent. Why is the humidity level so important? If a wine bottle cork is exposed to continued low or no humidity levels it will dry out and shrink allowing more air to seep into the bottle causing oxidization of the wine. We all know this ruins the wine.
As a rule of thumb, I would store wines in a regular refrigerator for no more than three to four weeks. Always store them on their sides so as to keep the liquid against the cork, keeping it moist.
Back in February 2013 I posted a blog on wine temperatures and in the article I wrote about chilling wines in a refrigerator. Here are some of the items I wrote about:
When using a refrigerator as a wine chiller there are several things you need to know. For white wine: serve at 55 degrees or slightly warmer. You can place the wine in the refrigerator for about one and a half hours to chill down to 55 degrees. In a freezer it will get to 55 degrees in approximately 40 minutes. You have to be careful when using a freezer as white wines generally freeze quicker than reds due to lower alcohol levels. As a side note: if you chill wine in ice and water it will only take about 20 minutes to reach the proper serving temperature.
If the wine has been stored for longer than the times I suggested let it sit out for about 20 minutes in order to get it to the proper serving temperature before you pour it. Red wine, which you want to serve between 60 and 65 degrees, only needs about 20 minutes in the refrigerator before it reaches the proper serving temperature.
A couple of other thoughts: if you open a bottle of chilled wine and only pour a couple of glasses and, assuming it warms while being out, it is okay to chill it in the refrigerator again until you are ready to serve the rest of the bottle.
If you put a bottle in the refrigerator to chill it down and then decide not to open it, it is okay to take it out and re-store it in another warmer location and then chill it again at a later date. It isn’t ideal to do so but it’s not likely to do much harm. I wouldn’t do it more than once. Temperature extremes aren’t good for wine.
Another question I get asked frequently: if I open a bottle of wine, especially white, and I don’t finish it all in an evening can I put it back into the refrigerator overnight? The answer: Yes you can. I would make sure there is some form of stopper in the top and wouldn’t leave it there for more than one night. Remember when you take it back out to let it stand for awhile to warm up to serving temperature.
Repeated temperature fluctuation is never good for any beverage, especially one as sensitive as wine can be. But as long as you pay attention to what you are doing and aren’t cooling the wine down too much or taking it from a fridge and placing it in a hot closet or garage, it should be fine when you are ready to get around to pulling the cork.
June Wine Dinner
Uptown Kitchen in Granger, Ind., will host a wine dinner on Friday, June 21, 2019. The theme is Chicago Style Steakhouse and the cost is $155 per person. The dinner will feature Carl’s Glenwood Cellars and Tiedemann wines. Click here to see the food and wine pairings. Call 574-968-3030 to reserve your spot at this dinner.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- June 8 – National Rosé Wine Day
- June 21 – Lambrusco Day
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day