It’s all very well buying up the delicious French wines you sampled on your last vineyard tour, but when you get them home do you know how to store them so that when you eventually open them they taste their very best? What about the ideal temperature to serve them at?
Here’s our guide to keeping and serving the French wines you love at exactly the right temperature to get the very most from them.
The Importance of Temperature for Storage
The temperature at which you store your bottles will determine the eventual flavour and balance of the drink: too warm and it may cause it to age prematurely too cold and flavours and aromas will be damaged. That being said, the worst enemy to your favourite tipple is any dramatic fluctuations in temperature.
While all wines differ slightly and things such as the alcohol level, fruit content and tannin level will all affect the optimum storage temperature, there are general guidelines about the temperatures at which bottles should be stored that you can follow.
- Reds– between 12ºC and 19ºC
- Whites and rosés – between 8ºC and 12ºC
- Champagne – between 5ºC and 8ºC
Perfect Storage Spaces
Of course, in a perfect world we would all have our own cellar or temperature-controlled room for our bottles. As this is a little beyond the reach of many of us, the next best option is a specialist fridge which can regulate the temperature of its contents.
Failing that, most of us will have to make do with a household cupboard in a cool location. Don’t be tempted to store white wine, rosé or champagne in the fridge as it will lose its flavour and bouquet.
It is worth bearing in mind the key rules of wine storage:
- Don’t store bottles close to something with a strong odour
- Keep bottles in the dark (even if that means wrapping them in cloth)
- Don’t move bottles about too much
Optimum Serving Temperatures
When you have tasted quality French wines in a good restaurant or on a wine tour, you may have been bowled away by the depth and complexity of flavours; in part, that will have had something to do with the exact temperature they were served at.
- Whites and rosés
In this country we are very used to having our whites served chilled but actually the right temperature to get the most from its flavour is between 8-10ºC. As the centre of most domestic fridges are substantially colder than this, it is worth keeping whites out of the fridge and then placing them in the fridge door for no more than an hour before serving.
That being said, rosé, cheaper whites or sweet whites should be served slightly colder at between 4-8ºC, so they should be put in the fridge two hours before serving.
- Champagne and Sparkling
Like sweet whites, champagne should be served cold, between 4-8ºC, so will need two hours in the fridge before serving.
When guidelines about serving reds at ‘room temperature’ first came about we did not all live in the well-insulated, centrally heated homes of today. Reds should be served between 14-18ºC, which for most bottles will mean that it requires a little chilling. Putting a bottle in the fridge for 30 minutes should help to bring down the temperature to the right level. Of course if you keep your reds in a cellar or cool storage then you may need to warm them slightly – be very careful as warming can seriously damage a wine. Plan ahead and take it out of storage at least three hours in advance.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be able to enjoy the French wines you’ve bought home with you as if you were back on your river cruise, enjoying your leisurely tour through the vineyards of France. norcold