Storing and serving wine at the proper temperature makes all the difference. Just like food, the taste of wine can be greatly affected by temperature –both positively and negatively.

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Wine that gets too warm is, in essence, “cooked.” While that can be a good thing for food, it is definitely not for wine. The oxidation process begins, flavors are destroyed, odd tastes can develop, and the wine can just plain spoil. Now this won’t happen if your wine gets a bit warm for a day or two, but storing it for long periods in a laundry room or somewhere the temperature stays above 77°F can definitely have an adverse effect on your wine drinking experience.

Cold can also be the enemy of wine. A standard kitchen refrigerator is really too cold for long-term wine storage. It is perfectly fine, however, for short-term storage (a couple weeks or so). If wine gets too cold and stays that way, flavors are destroyed. Whatever you do, don’t store your wine in a garage or crawl space that is not insulated in winter; the result would be just as bad as storing it in a hot attic in summer. Plus, if wine freezes, corks can be pushed out and when it thaws, you’ve got a big mess.

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The temperature most wine authorities consider ideal for storage is 55°F but anything between 45°F and 65°F is within an acceptable range. If you’re keeping wine for months or years, your best bet to preserve the sometimes-delicate tastes one can find in a good bottle is a refrigerator designed specifically for wine storage.

One option is a dual-zone refrigerator. It allows you to keep your reds at a proper storage temperature, while whites are kept in a cooler ready-to-drink state.

Oh, and here’s another tip: wine refrigerators fill up quickly. Don’t skimp on capacity. Buy the biggest one you have room for. If your collection doesn’t fill it up, well, that gives you an excuse to go buy more wine. That’s certainly not a bad thing! Plus a full refrigerator makes more efficient use of electricity.

As for proper serving temperature for wines, that can vary greatly depending on type. Sparkling whites like Champagne or Cava are on the low end of the spectrum (in the 42°-43°F range) as are sweeter whites like Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Big intense reds, like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, are at their best in the 63°-65°F range. For other reds, such as Chianti or Rioja, try a bit cooler, like 55°-59°F.

For dryer whites like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, 48°-50°F is recommended. That’s probably a bit warmer than many would expect but we suggest you try it. You’ll find the flavors are much more developed instead of being masked by cold.

If that special Cabernet or Bordeaux you plan on having with dinner has been stored at the ideal 55°F a great wine-gifts-rabbit-wine-chilling-carafe-metrokane--wccc-21serving suggestion is to decant it an hour or so before serving. This will allow it to slowly warm to optimal drinking temperature and “open up,” releasing all the great flavors you don’t want to miss.

On the other hand, if your white or sparkling wine is stored at 55°F, but needs to be served cooler. There are lots of great options for chilling.

Whether you’re buying $10 bottles or $100 bottles, wine can represent significant financial outlay. Protect your investment so that you get the most out every glass. The best way to do that: store it and enjoy it at the correct temperature!