How to store wine – and other temperature issues

Wine storage is a hot issue among our customers – in all senses of the phrase.

But follow a few straightforward rules and you can be sure the case of Montalto you’ve just bought will drink wonderfully when you enjoy it a few years down the line.

And that brings us to another commonly asked question: what’s the best temperature for red wine?

Check out the video below in which our winemaker Simon Black and general manager Anthony Jones discuss the best temperature to drink red and white.

And look out for the sneaky tip on how to disguise the faults of a drop that might otherwise make you grimace.

Three Keys to Storing Wine

Turn down the heat:

Temperature is so important when it comes to wine – both storing and drinking.

It’s essential you store wine in a “cool” place. By cool, we mean around 13C, and certainly not over 18C. The warmer it gets, the quicker it ages, and the quicker it will lose the complexity and character often associated with wines that merit a good amount of time in the bottle.

Another key – make sure your storage temperature is pretty constant. Avoid places where there might be extreme spikes and falls on the thermometer.

As well as compromising the wine’s quality, big temperature changes could – if it has a cork – cause expansion or contraction that pushes liquid out of the bottle or lets air in.

In Melbourne, for example, where summer temperatures can soar over 40C and winter nights get down near freezing, your shed or garage will be a less than ideal substitute for a temperature controlled wine fridge, cabinet or rack.

Don’t be afraid of the dark:

Just like they age us, the sun’s UV rays age wine – and not usually in a good way. A dark room – or cellar – is your best bet.

In most cases, household lights won’t have a noticeable effect. But darkness is always preferred.

Keep it damp and horizontal?

Not so long ago the humidity of your storage space was also a factor.

Air that doesn’t contain enough moisture would dry out the cork, letting air in and compromising the wine.

The prevalence of screw-tops means that is no longer such an issue. These new caps also mean you don’t need to worry about storing your wine horizontally, which pushed the liquid against the cork and stopped it from drying out.

Buf if the bottle doesn’t have a cork, the decision to go vertical or horizontal becomes a matter of personal preference.

The right temperature to drink red and white wine

As Simon and Anthony discuss in the video, you’ve probably heard the general rule that red wine should be served at room temperature and white wine is best chilled.

While broadly true, to get the best out of any wine there’s a little more to it than that.

Red wine drinking temperature:

General wisdom dictates that red wine is best served at room temperature.

But let’s think about the expression “room temperature” for a moment – what “room” are we referring to?

A room in a Melbourne summer is going to be quite different from a Mornington winter.

Serve your red too warm and you’ll likely be overpowered by the tannins and alcohol content.

The wine might also lose its more subtle notes and characteristics – and seem dull and flat. Somewhere between 16C and 18 C is ideal. That allows the best expressions of the wine’s aromatics and character.

White wine drinking temperature:

While overly warm red wine brings the alcohol to the forefront, you’ll be hit by the acidity of a white wine that’s served too cold.

The more delicate structure and notes of white wine “close up” in the cold, and any vibrancy is lost.

Try to aim for around 11 to 12C to get the best results.

Red wine in the fridge – sacre bleu!

If you have a cellar or dedicated wine fridge, it’s obviously easier to predict and control the temperature of your wines.

And if you think your bottle of red is a little too warm, don’t be afraid to pop it in the refrigerator for a spell before serving.

Just remember you can always allow the wine to warm up again either in the bottle or glass.

With white wine, the opposite is true. Most fridges are set to between 2C and 4C, so always give it some time to “warm up” before drinking.