Do I need to store my reds and whites at different temperatures?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am a budding wine enthusiast and in the process of purchasing my first wine fridge. I currently have more red wine than white and was thinking about getting a single-zone fridge. The reality is that I’ll likely have both red and white wine in the fridge and assume that’s better than the basement floor. But what is better—storing my red wine slightly colder or white wine slightly warmer than recommended?

—Michael M., Westfield, N.J.

Dear Michael,

Most wine lovers agree that storing temperatures and serving temperatures are two different things. So, despite that reds and whites are typically served at different temperatures, the ideal storage temperature for both is about 55 degrees F, which will help keep your wines from the risk of aging prematurely. (I’ve been aging prematurely for a while now, and I don’t recommend it.)

This might put a damper on thoughts of grabbing a bottle out of the cellar and serving it right away, but not terribly so. Your reds will probably be too cold to appreciate fully at 55 degrees F, but you can warm them up by decanting them or just giving them some time to warm up on their own, depending on the ambient temperature of the room. Your whites won’t be as cold as your 35- to 40-degree refrigerator, but I like them very close to cellar temperature—much colder and their flavors start to dull. Either way, you can pour yourself (and your guests) a taste, and then watch the wines evolve as you let the reds warm up, and put the whites on ice after you crack them open.

—Dr. Vinny

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