Ideal wine fridge temperature guide

What temperature should a wine fridge be?

Setting your new wine fridge at the right temperature for your needs is the first challenge of owning a wine fridge and important to get right. While long term storage of any and all wines is always around 12°C and if you're leaving your wine to mature you can stop reading now, if you're interested in wine service and perhaps you've purchased a dual zone wine fridge, then you'll really want to have your wines and Champagnes at the ideal service temperature. This wine fridge temperature guide will help you identify the ideal serving temperature for your favourite wines.

Wine fridge temperature range?

Although some wine drinkers love to serve their crisp whites and Champagnes close to freezing, this really does dull the flavours and the lowest temperatures white wines should be served at, even Asti and Cava, is 5°C. On the side of bold reds, it isn't necessary to purchase a wine fridge that can be set any higher than 18°C. The fact that almost all wine fridges, perhaps with the exception of wine fridge cabinets, almost exclusively can be set anywhere between 5°C-18°C is not by accident but by design!

That being said, you only need a wine fridge with a temperature range for the wines you drink, so if you really only want to keep whites in your fridge, you don't need a fridge that can go up to 18°C. 

Why do wines benefit from being served at different temperatures?

  1. Temperature and Taste: Temperature plays a pivotal role in shaping the taste profile of wine. Serving wine too cold or too warm can dull its flavours and mask its nuances, robbing you of the full sensory experience. For example, white wines served too cold may taste excessively acidic, while red wines served too warm can become overly alcoholic and lose their complexity. By serving wines at their optimal temperatures, you unlock their true potential, allowing their flavours to shine through with clarity and finesse.

  2. Aromatics and Bouquet: The aroma of wine is often a prelude to its taste, offering a tantalising preview of what's to come. Temperature significantly influences the release of volatile compounds responsible for the wine's bouquet. Cooler temperatures tend to suppress aromatics, whereas warmer temperatures enhance their expression. For aromatic white wines such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, serving them slightly chilled enhances their fragrant floral and fruity notes. In contrast, fuller-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah benefit from warmer temperatures, which amplify their complex aromas of dark fruits, spices, and oak.

  3. Texture and Mouthfeel: Beyond taste and aroma, temperature also affects the texture and mouthfeel of wine. Serving wine at the appropriate temperature ensures that its texture is balanced and its mouthfeel is silky and smooth. For example, sparkling wines and Champagne are best enjoyed chilled, as lower temperatures help to preserve their effervescence and crisp acidity, creating a refreshing and lively sensation on the palate. Conversely, light to medium-bodied red wines, such as Pinot Noir or Grenache, reveal their velvety textures and supple tannins when served slightly below room temperature, allowing for a more rounded and pleasurable drinking experience.

  4. Varietal Specificity: Different grape varietals have distinct characteristics that are accentuated or subdued by temperature. Understanding the ideal serving temperature for each varietal is essential for appreciating its unique qualities fully. For instance, bold white wines like Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc shine when served cool but not too cold, as excessive chilling can mute their subtle flavors and aromas. Similarly, bold red wines such as Malbec or Zinfandel benefit from being served at cellar temperature, around 60-65°F (15-18°C), allowing their robust flavours and textures to unfold gracefully.

  5. Context and Occasion: Beyond technical considerations, the serving temperature of wine is also influenced by the context and occasion. For casual gatherings or outdoor events, wines are often served slightly colder to combat warmer temperatures and refresh the palate. In contrast, formal dining occasions or wine tastings may call for more precise temperature control to showcase the wine's nuances and complexity. By adapting the serving temperature to the occasion, you ensure that every glass of wine is enjoyed to its fullest potential, regardless of the setting.

Wine fridge temperature for red wine?

A good rule of thumb for service temperature of red wines would be to consider their body and tannic content. Tannins served cold are overly astringent and unpleasant, for this reason bold and full bodied Zinfandels or Sagrantinos, Bordeaux Blends or Napa wines should generally be served around 18°C.

More mid bodied reds like Beaujolais or a young Chianti can often stand to be served a little cooler, think around 14°C and some very light reds can even benefit from being chilled, especially in summer.

Wine fridge temperature for white wine?

Dry full bodied white wines would be next on the temperature scale with the ideal range of around 10-12°C (think white Burgundy or Voignier), followed by lighter, higher acid whites which are enjoyable around 8°C (think Riesling, Pinot Gris etc).

Wine fridge temperature for rosé?

Rosé always benefits from being chilled, even the deepest rosés will have only very light skin contact or a small % of red blended into them meaning their body and tannic content is low. A good serving temperature for rosé is between 6-8°C.

Wine fridge temperature for Champagne and sparkling wines?

Champagne is ideally served around 8°C, especially vintage Champagne as you want the wine to be warm enough to bring out the expression of all of those tertiary characteristics of the wine. More simple Cavas and Prosecco wines can be served around 6°C. Sweet wine is also great at a lower temperature from 6-8°C.

Ideal serving temperature by wine grape

Grape Variety Ideal Serving Temperature (°C) Ideal Serving Temperature (°F)
Chardonnay 10-12°C 50-54°F
Sauvignon Blanc 7-10°C 45-50°F
Riesling 8-10°C 46-50°F
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris 7-9°C 45-48°F
Chenin Blanc 9-11°C 48-52°F
Viognier 10-12°C 50-54°F
Cabernet Sauvignon 16-18°C 60-65°F
Merlot 15-17°C 59-63°F
Syrah/Shiraz 16-18°C 60-65°F
Pinot Noir 12-14°C 54-57°F
Malbec 15-17°C 59-63°F
Zinfandel 16-18°C 60-65°F
Sangiovese 16-18°C 60-65°F
Tempranillo 16-18°C 60-65°F
Grenache 16-18°C 60-65°F
Nebbiolo 16-18°C 60-65°F
Cabernet Franc 16-18°C 60-65°F
Gamay 13-15°C 55-59°F
Gewürztraminer 10-12°C 50-54°F
Barbera 15-17°C 59-63°F
Muscat 6-8°C 43-46°F
Grüner Veltliner 8-10°C 46-50°F
Albariño 7-9°C 45-48°F
Sémillon 9-11°C 48-52°F

What type of wine fridge do I need?

Armed with this information it's time to think about you own wine collection and needs. If you have 100 wines to drink and 100 wines to mature you could consider a dual zone wine fridge, if its just storage then maybe a freestanding wine fridge. If you're looking for a wine fridge for service from your kitchen then maybe a built-in wine fridge or integrated wine fridge is the way to go.

Almost all wine fridges offer the ability to set the temperature between 5-18°C apart from very specific wine storage cabinets which are set permanently at 12°C and can not be moved.

Which wine fridge brands offer long term storage?

The premium brands for long term wine storage are EuroCave, Swisscave, and Liebherr wine fridges these will offer more than just temperature controls with special shelving for vibration control. carbon filters to combat aromas and UV protected or solid doors. Brands like Climadiff and La Sommeliere also offer top quality wine storage at a third of the price of the most prestigious brands.

Which wine fridge brands offer dual zone temperature control?

All of the above brands have dual zone wine fridges in their collections, but also consider mQuvee, Dunavox and Vin Garde who are especially good for wine service.

In conclusion, service temperature is a matter of taste whereas storage temperature is a matter of science. We do not recommend you keep wines for long term storage at service temperature as flavours will quickly degrade if left at service temperature for too long.

If you need help choosing the ideal wine fridge for your collection, why not visit us in our London store or chat to us online.

Sarah newton

Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.