Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have a dual-zone wine cooler. Should red wines be stored at a different temperature than white wines?
—Tannia, Lutz, Fla.
How you should use a dual-zone wine cooler depends on your wine drinking habits and expectations. Are you storing the wines to age them for years? Or did you get a cooler because you wanted to have the wines ready to drink at the temperatures you like?
If your primary goal is to age the wines at optimal cellaring conditions, then the cooler should be set to 55° F (13° C), regardless of the color or style of wines.
If you want to have one or more of the zones set to the ideal serving temperature, your own preferences should be your guide. I like to serve red wines at about 60° F (15° or 16° C), so the typical cellar temperature works for me—I just pull the red wines out about 30 minutes before I plan to serve them. A lot of people serve their red wines at room temperature, but many wine lovers, myself included, prefer them a bit cooler, which keeps the flavors well-integrated and prevents the tannins and alcohol from sticking out too much.
Whites and bubblies are typically served much cooler, but not as cold as your food refrigerator, where the too-cold temperatures can mute a wine’s flavors. So if you just want to store your white wines short-term at a proper serving temperature, I’d set that zone of your cooler somewhere between 40° and 50° F (between 4° and 10° C).