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Storing Champagne

Is champagne stored at a lower temperature than red wines? If so at what temperature?

Thanks.

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  1. It's generally *served* at a lower temperature than red wines, but storage would be the same - around 50 to 55 degrees F is optimal, I believe.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      Ok thanks Niki. Now looking into different storage methods. So far they are costly (e.g. wine fridge, semi-custom cellar using rack kits, temp/humidity machine and I'm guessing a new entry door for the room that is double paned and will keep outside air from entering the room). I live in Toronto so I don't have the ability to just toss my wine in the basement like Zin. Our temp fluctuates a lot.

      1. re: BDD888

        FYI the Rosehill champagne rack doubles for those extra-hefty bottles from the Rhone (e.g. PURE) and California (e.g. Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander PN).

        Also echo-ing constant temp storage outside of light and vibration (the latter being particularly bad for a bottle under pressure). 55ºF is 12-13ºC, and works for pretty much everything.

        1. re: BDD888

          "Our temp fluctuates a lot"....I'd like to retract that statement. :) Don't know why I said that. I mean it does outside or inside a home if we're not using our thermostats. Normally we do so the indoor temps can be regulated. Perhaps not kept at 60F but when we have the a/c on the a/c blasts of air I believe are at 58F (cycling on and off). My indoor temp currently is 71F (when a/c is on). So, in the end I will still be getting a wine fridge when I return from LA next year for my new home.

      2. Niki is correct. While serving temperature varies, storage temperature is constant -- the ideal is stereotypically "55 degrees F @ 58 degrees humidity," but it's more important to minimize the fluctuations in temperature and humidity, and to eliminate vibration and light. In other words, wine stored at a constant 60 degrees would be preferable than wines stored in a location that rises to 70+ during the day, drops to 40-something at night, but averages to 55 . . . .

        33 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          I used to pay a lot of attention to wine storage temperature. However, a few years back in Calgary, I noticed I accidentally left a bottle of 1971 Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Auslese inside a display unit that was placed in an environment with a temperature of around 72F ( room temperature ) all year round!! This was way above the desired optimal storage temp of 55F!! Furthermore, it was in that storage condition for over 4 years! I kind of gave up and decide to open it, anticipating a bottle of aged vinegar! Man! Was I WRONG! It was more than drinkable, it was damn delicious!! So???!!! Is temperature really THAT important?? Depends! I guess??!!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Were the "Wine Gods" smiling on you for 4 years? Shrug. :) All the "experts" say wines should be sotred at 55F (or13C). And that is the approximate temp they use in France (or so I've read). Yet things worked out for you back in Calgary.

            How do you store your wine today? Do you have a temp/humidity controlled custom cellar? Wine fridge? Curious.

            As for me I think I'll still start off with a wine fridge. Maybe a 46 or 146 bottle fridge anyway. Perhaps I'll try your "4 year in room temp test" one day. WIth probably a decent $20-30 CDN bottle of wine. Do I end up with "Grand Cru Vinegar"? :)

            Actually, I wonder how many of you have temp/humidity controlled cellars or wine fridges. So far no one has admitted to owning a wine fridge. Zin has a "cellar" which I'm guessing is at or near the right temp/humidity.

            1. re: BDD888

              Wine racks in basement only! Average temperature a 'warm' 63-65f. So far so good though! After 10 years in the basement, my '82 Mouton still 'top to very top shoulder'!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                That's not bad. Still within serving temp for red wines. :) Maybe I'll have similar luck in my next home. Will see what kind of constant temp I get in my basement. If I can get away with not needing a wine fridge or needing to build a rack/KoolSpace machine setup even better.

              2. re: BDD888

                As I have said before, you are taking this $#!+ waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too literally . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  Agreed. Just do the best with what you have. We turned the guest bedroom closet (basement) into a passive wine closet. My husband built all the racks/shelves himself. It took some time, but it wasn't crazy expensive and has almost optimal conditions. Holds about 400 bottles.

                  Would I love some fancy, temp/humidity controlled, 3,000 bottle cellar? Of course. But it just isn't going to happen. I'm quite happy with what I have, especially because it was made with love. ;)

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Yes, he is.

                    I had the luxury of building out to recover dead space, which eventually became a cellar for about 1K bottles. Not fancy (e.g. pre-fab racks, no serving space or presentation racks), and I could have attempted passive but since the space was right next to the machine room, I elected to add active cooling and didn't have any serious qualms about installing an INAO25 (yes, a Koolr would have worked too).

                    Would I do it again? Yes, the bottles have to go somewhere and the space would have been wasted otherwise. Would I add bells and whistles or be doing daily humidity checks? No, a more-or-less constant temperature is fine and I don't see a problem with manually chilling down or warming up individual bottles before service.

                    The two people I know who have really large private cellars (approx 12K and 35K bottles respectively with plenty of cult and trophy bottles) aren't that an*l-retentive about temperature and humidity. Constant temps, easy access and inventory control seem to be their only worries. That, and being able to live long enough to drink through their holdings.

                    EDIT: at the end of the day, we are still essentially talking about bottles of grape juice.

                    1. re: wattacetti

                      There *are* people I know with temperature controlled "cellars."

                      Two people I know -- for example -- have inverted rooms in their homes into "showroom" cellars for their wine . . . custom-built wine racks, display pieces, a small counter area for standing bottles upright, and (of course) on a completely separate temperature/humidity control from the rest of their house. One has somewhere around 6-8,000 bottles; the other has at least three that amount. (I've never asked either of them how much wine they have.) Both buy wines in Europe and import them/have them imported for them. Both live in the Napa Valley where it can (and does) get quite hot. The former used to be in the wine trade, like me; the latter is just really into wine.

                      Another converted his entire two-car garage into a temperature-controlled storage area for wine. Some of the space has custom racking, etc., but most of it is open space. As the Editor and Publisher of a wine magazine, he receives shipments of wine from wineries all over the country -- wines sent to him for review. He conducts tastings in his home four days a week.

                      Maybe 5-6 people I know own wine "refrigerators" -- stand-alone, self-contained units with capacities varying anywhere from (rounded off) 100-300 bottles. None of these people are in the wine business.

                      All my wine is stored in boxes -- not racks. I use as many wooden Bordeaux and Burgundy boxes as I can find (the latter are increasingly more difficult to find), or in Burgundy cardboard lay-downs. I also use some styrofoam laydowns. None of my wine is stored long-term using any sort of active temperature control at all.

                      I *did* rent a locker in a temperature-controlled, wine storage space once -- that was back in 1974-1976, when I was still living at home and had no room to put the 20-25 cases I then owned as a 21 year old . . . but that was the only time.

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Impressive: 25 cases at 21. I think I had 4 *bottles*.

                        1. re: wattacetti

                          You have to remember, I grew up in the wine trade . . . started tasting, learning, studying wine at age 10, and entered the trade at 16 . . . and started buying and collecting even then. So by the time I was 21-22, I had quite a bit of 1968, '69, and 1970 Napa Cabernets; 1966, 1970 and '71 Bordeaux; 1967 and 1971 Sauternes; 1971 Germans, and so on . . . names like Heitz Martha's, Ridge Monte Bello, Beaulieu George de Latour; first growth Bordeaux, as well as Palmer, La Mission, Ducru, Lynch-Bages and, of courrse, Pétrus; d'Yquem, Climens, Rieussec, Suduiraut; and so on -- I was VERY blessed . . . these are names I could NEVER afford today, were I just starting out in the trade, let alone buy 1/2 and full cases . . . .

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          1. re: zin1953

                            That wasn't an option or goal of mine when I was 10-16 years old. Was in school. If I asked my parents if that was okay then....LOL!! And what money I had in my 20's went to paying for my university education. When I was 16 it was also near impossible to get a job PERIOD. Except maybe mowing the lawn for a few neighbours. Actually I don't think 16 year olds today would be allowed into the wine trade. :) Maybe you had family connections? Unique conditions.

                            1. re: BDD888

                              Not so unique. As I said, I grew up in the trade (i.e.: my family was in it), and certainly the children of others in the trade here in California and across Europe had similar exposure/experience to my own.

                              At age 16, you can go to work in a liquor store, for example, as a delivery boy or stock clerk. You can be 18 to work in a winery in production, but 21 in the tasting room. You need to be 21 to work with open containers (i.e.: in a bar or restaurant).

                              Note: above ages apply to California only; can't speak for other states/countries.

                              Cheers,
                              Jason

                      2. re: wattacetti

                        That's what I was aiming for as I said. If I can have a setup in a room with a constant temp near the "optimal" range I'd be happy. And I'm assuming that is what your 2 friends (with the 12-25k bottles) have. That's what "invinotheresverde" has with her 400 bottle "wine closet" in her basement. I don't think any of them or you with no temp control machines just opted to blindly put your prized collections in any dark space without considering the constant temp. If it was "reasonable" or if the temp was much too high (e.g. 70F plus and crazy high RH).

                        As one of the novices here I just want to take the right route the first time. I just thought if I had the ability to build a custom room (temp/humidity controlled...$1500 or $30,000+) or buy an expensive wine fridge...and set the constant temp to 13C...why not? If I can get away with just tossing the bottles in a dark "cool" room in the basement....even better!! :)

                        Btw wattacetti....since you DO have a Eurocave INAO25....what temp do you have it set to? :) My future town home (according to basement floor plans) won't allow for a wine room after all. There's just one small room that is dark...a storage room...which I need for other items. So my options it turns out is now somewhat limited. So after all this talk...it looks like it will have to be a wine fridge for me. :)

                        1. re: BDD888

                          The unit's shipping default of 12ºC. I was actually too lazy to change the temperature setting.

                          You'll probably want that wine fridge to sit on its own circuit when you eventually do move in. Let your builder(s) know.

                          1. re: wattacetti

                            Good point wattacetti. Will do that.

                            And as for Zin...I guess when he said he was "in the trade" at 16...it was on a part-time basis as either a delivery or stock boy. And got the job through family connections. I just recall how non-existent jobs were for 16 year olds when I was 16.

                            1. re: BDD888

                              You know, you can ask me directly. After all, I'm right here . . . .

                              My uncle owned a wine shop in the days when everyone had liquor stores. In other words, following World War II, he opened up a store that specialized in fine wines and not only carrying whiskies, gins, vodkas, etc. By the late-1960s, he had six stores.

                              Once I got my California Driver License, I went to work for him as a stock clerk and delivery boy, working four nights a week (Wednesday through Saturday, 4:00 pm-12 midnight). After a year or so, I was taken off deliveries and made a full-time clerk because I knew more about wine than any other individual who worked regularly in that store. By 18, I had graduated high school, started junior college, and was a wine buyer for all six stores, and would go on buying trips to Napa and Sonoma to place orders directly with various wineries . . .

                              In 1974, I left to work for a different store (40 hours a week, plus my college courses), and began writing articles for a national magazine. in 1976, I transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz, continued to write for the magazine, as well as newspaper articles and -- upon graduating -- went to work for a major Napa Valley winery . . . .

                              Cheers,
                              Jason

                        2. re: wattacetti

                          So wine is not really that fragile? One of my hesitations about collecting is the idea of perfect storage.

                          1. re: budnball

                            Apparently not. I was thinking the same thing before. But, as you've read (e.g. Charles Yu...wine bottle in 72F for 4 years...still okay) there are exceptions. I too assumed that if wine was stored in rooms not within the "optimal temp range" we'd have vinegar. Especially if kept in too warm a room. Still, I don't think I'd want to chance it with wines that are really valuable to you (e.g. investment/long-term storage wines).

                            And if 72F is not in the danger zone what is? Temps above 75-50F?

                            As I mentioned, in my case, I have no choice but to buy a wine fridge.

                            1. re: budnball

                              So far, everyone who is concerned about having "ideal conditions" has not asked (what is to me) the obvious question:

                              ---> What happens if wine is stored under less-than-idean circumstances?

                              Discussions to this point read like it's as distinct as a light switch: either ON or OFF . . . either the wine is stored in ideal conditions, and the wine will be perfect; or it's stored in less than ideal conditions, and it's ruined . . . THAT is what is incorrect.

                              Wine which is stored HOT (over approximately 80F/26.5F) will indeed show signs of its ill-treatment, and it won't be good. Even wines stored WARM (think over 75F/24C, approximately) will eventually show signs of heat damage. But still: it isn't "instant." It takes time. The higher the temperatures, the less time is needed for the wine to show the ill-effects of its poor treatment.

                              If wine is stored in the high-60s/low-70s, it's certainly not ideal, but ***typically*** all that will happen is that the wine will mature more rapidly. So, hypothetically, if a wine won't reach its peak for 20 years, and you store it in the high-60s, maybe it reaches its peak in five years, or eight, or 10 . . . but even that "peak" (let's say in 8 years, before the wine starts its inevitable decline) would not be as "high" as if the wine was properly stored and hit its peak at 20 years.

                              Also, any re-sale value at auction would be destroyed by improper storage.

                              Cheers,
                              Jason

                              1. re: zin1953

                                "any re-sale value at auction would be destroyed by improper storage"

                                How do you tell the wine at auction has been improper storaged that it's value should be low other than look at the obvious (such as the level of the wine should be above shoulder level for a wine that is not too old ...etc)?

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  Would a wine have more sediment over time? If so maybe the bottle might contain abnormally high amounts of sediment given it's vintage? A guess.

                                  I also suppose that if you were to store the bottle at >80F it would still take a few years to show signs?

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    When I sold some wine last year through the LCBO Vintages/Waddington's auction. All they did, when I delivered the wine, was to ask me if the wine had been stored 'properly' ( kind of vague IMO ) and then checked the shoulder level of the 'older wines' to get an idea of the ullage. In addition to the commission, they also charge an 'insurance fee'!
                                    The process was relatively straight forward, since I guess they automatically assume people who goes through auction house to sell wine, knows what they are doing regarding wine-storage. Afterall, Its usually wines of value that gets on the auction block! However, I heard auction houses like Christie's or Sotheby's are more strict in determining storage detail and history!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      In other words, no one ever know if the wine has actually been stored properly for over the whole period of time. It just depends on your luck then.

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          Agreed. While there *can* be distinct and obvious signs of improper storage, there need not be. It is ***ALWAYS*** "Buyer Beware!"

                                        2. re: skylineR33

                                          If you visit 'Duty Free' shops in HK or Macau, its even more 'Scary'!! First Growth Bordeaux bottles on shelves in the 'wrong lay down' position next to entrances when they get constant bombardments of alternating cold and hot air when the sliding doors open and shut! Not to mention being shined on by close proximity hot and bright spot lights!! What a waste putting '82s, '89s and '90s under those king of treatments!!.

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            I wondered about buying wines in HK/Macau when you mentioned them.. And being that everything is pirated over there does this happen with wines and spirits? I suppose you'd really need to know the wine shops well in HK/Macau. Going only to the established and respected.

                                            lso, of the many times I've been to HK/Macau, I can't say I saw any wine shops. Almost as hard to spot as gas stations if not harder. Definitely harder actually. I'd only spot bottles of XO at different small shops. Which weren't wine shops.

                                            nd is that they way "experts" tell if wine bottles are stored incorrectly? Because the level of wine has dropped below the "shoulder"? Due to evaporation? Are there other ways to tell?

                                            1. re: BDD888

                                              There are 'tons' of great wine stores now in HK including the UK base Berry Brothers. Vertical galore of 1st growth Boprdeaux, Grand Cru Burgundies, Super Tuscans...etc

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Last time I was in HK was 2006. Was living by Repulse Bay. Perhaps I missed them. Just don't recall seeing them. Will look for Berry Brothers the next time I return.

                                                Stored vertically? Great. Figures.

                                                1. re: BDD888

                                                  I think he's talking about verticals of those specific wines (e.g. Margaux 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 etc) and not storing bottles upright.

                                                  1. re: wattacetti

                                                    In that case does "verticals" refer to the best vintages? Not quite fluent in "wine" yet. :)

                                                    1. re: BDD888

                                                      A "vertical" tasting, or "owning a vertical," means simply that you are tasting, or that you own, multiple vintage of the same wine. The word "best" does NOT enter into it. Indeed, some of the most valuable bottles in a vertical collection are from the worst vintages . . . .