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A bottle and glass of red wine

Should You Ever Store Red Wine in a Wine Cooler?

Conventional wisdom on wine storage and service tells us that red wine should be served at just below room temperature - somewhere between 62-68°F.

This is certainly true for full-bodied red wines that are high in tannins.

However, it is not a universal truth, and some red wines will actually benefit from being stored in a wine cooler before you serve them.

Should You Store Red Wine in a Wine Cooler?

Yes, for long term storage you should store your red wine in a wine cooler or temperature controlled wine cellar.

The best temperature to store all types of wine at is 55°F, which is called the "cellar temperature", and is designed to replicate the original wine cellars used in France.

Keeping wine for many years is all about keeping this natural product stable and as inert as possible so that it can mature gently without spoiling. This includes avoiding fluctuations of heat and humidity as well as exposure to light. However, storing wine in preparation to drink it is quite different.

Keeping wines at too cool a temperature (in the refrigerator, for example) can result in "closed" wine. The flavors are muted and dull, and you will often not be able to taste a wide variety of complex flavors. Heavy red wines with a strong tannic backbone suffer from this the most, which is why they need to be served at room temperature. However, lighter red wines tend to have a higher level of acidity and more fresh fruit flavors. It is these wines that will benefit from being stored in a cooler.

Which Red Wines Benefit From Being Served Lightly Chilled? 

Lighter-bodied red wines that have lower levels of tannins are the ones that will benefit from being lightly chilled in a cooler for half an hour to 90 minutes before drinking. These red wines often have more red fruit characteristics than black fruit ones, so look out for the taste of strawberry and red cherry rather than blackberry or blackcurrant.

The classic example of a lighter red wine is Beaujolais, which is made from the Gamay grape varietal. Beaujolais Nouveau is the lightest, being drunk when it is still very young. This can be served as cool as 52 degrees. Regular Beaujolais or the higher quality Beaujolais Villages benefit from being served at about 55 degrees as it has a little more tannin and structure.

Are There Other Red Wines That Taste Good at Lower Temperatures?

Pinot Noir is another red wine varietal that is lighter in body and higher in acidity when it is young. For this reason, storing it in a cooler and reducing the temperature before service is an excellent idea. The same is true of Italian wines made with Corvina grapes, like Valpolicella, and Cabernet Franc varietal wines made in locations like the Loire Valley of France and Ontario, Canada.

You might also like to look for Zweigelt wines. This is made using the most commonly grown red grape in Austria, but you may come across examples that have been produced in Canada or even Japan. It has low tannins and a medium to light body, so it tastes very good when served just a little chilled.

Preventing Your Wine From Becoming “Cooked” 

Another reason to invest in a good cooler is to stop your wine from spoiling. Wine is a natural product and subjecting it to extremes of temperature can result in it becoming "cooked" which ruins the intended flavors. Fresh fruit notes will become baked or stewed tasting. If a bottle of wine is exposed to too much heat, the liquid can even expand and pop out the cork, leaving the liquid remaining in the bottle to spoil through exposure to the air.

Leaving a bottle of wine in your car can subject it to enough heat to cause permanent damage to the taste. Similarly, storing wine in your kitchen can also be asking for trouble. The kitchen continually undergoes massive fluctuations in temperature and humidity when it is in use, so leaving wine on the side or in the cupboard exposed to the ambient temperature can be bad news. A wine cooler allows your light reds to be kept stable and ready for drinking.

When Shouldn't You Store Red Wine in a Cooler?

If your taste is for bolder red with high levels of tannin and body, it is unlikely you will want to store them in a cooler just before serving. However, if you live in a very warm climate then a cooler in your home is still an excellent way of keeping wines in good condition for drinking day-to-day.

A wine cooler is an excellent solution for storing most wines safely for a month or two. Just remember to take bold reds out of the cooler a good few hours before you want to drink them. It is important to allow them to gently come up to temperature and that takes time in a cool, dry place.

What Food Complements Light Red Wine?

Just as serving red wine a little cooler may go against what you have heard in the past, those same light red wines might surprise you by pairing beautifully with fish! We like to rewrite the rule book when something tastes this delicious! Enjoy a young Pinot Noir with the fattier, meatier fish such as salmon, tuna, or swordfish. The acidity in the wine cuts through the fat, but the red grapes give enough bold and fruity flavor to be able to compete with the strong flavors in the fish.

As your light red wine has been chilled just a little, you might find that it works as a beautiful pairing with light green salads in summer. The fruitiness of the wine can temper any astringency in leafy greens and the acidity of a vinaigrette dressing should match nicely with the acidity of the wine bringing balance to your palate.

As you can see, there are good practical reasons for storing some red wines in a cooler. It can help to keep your wines fresh and fruity, but also makes them taste refreshing and complement light meals in warmer weather. We're ready and waiting to discuss what kind of cooler you need to suit both your taste in wine and interior design. Call Wine Cellar HQ today for expert guidance on wine storage in your home.

Richard Bryan

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