Storage temperature

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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In the same way that it affects the reactions involved in winemaking, temperature becomes the governing factor in the much slower reactions in bottle that constitute wine ageing. Interactions among the thousands of natural organic chemicals in the wine during this important phase of its maturation are directly affected by temperature. Applying the general scientific formula for temperature’s effect on chemical reactions, a cellar temperature of 30 °C/86 °F should in theory mature a wine twice as fast as storage at 20 °C/68 °F—except that at such a high temperature compounds with a cooked or jammy note are formed and may well dominate the more desirable compounds. A cellar temperature of 10 °C/50 °F should in theory age wine at half the speed of a 20 °C cellar, which is to say very slowly, although not quite so slowly as a cellar kept at 0 °C/32 °F, which would also result in extremely high deposits of tartrates and phenolics. In practice, a reasonable cellar temperature for ageing wines to be drunk within one’s own lifetime is somewhere between 10 and 15 °C (50–59 °F). (The cellars of the Swedish state monopoly were so cold that any fine, old wine bought in Sweden would taste markedly different from the same wine aged in the more temperate climate of France, for example.)