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Deleterious effect of low temperature on white wine


#1

I did a search on this subject in the community, but did not find answers that addressed it exactly.
I have read that keeping white wine in the fridge (4-6 C) would have very serious negative effects on the wine. “Easiest way to kill a white wine” was one of the comments from a wine critic.
If that statement is true, can anyone tell me why? The development of the wine would be slowed down, obviously, but would the aging process follow a different (and nocive) pathway at that temperature than, let’s say, at 12C? Is it the lower humidity in the fridge to blame, drying out the cork, allowing air to enter? But if the bottle was kept horizontally, wouldn’t that effect be very small?
Anyway, awaiting enlightment from the experts.
Many thanks


#2

It’s not true.

And the wine critic that made the comment in The Times recently got a lot of criticism for that from wine-lovers, along with a lot of the other rubbish in the same article.

I can only imagine that what she meant was that if you put white wine in the fridge for a long time, and then take it out and serve it immediately the wine would be too cold. But that too depends on the wine, the temperature of your fridge, and personal taste.


#3

I have seen Jancis say this in relation to champagne and I believe it relates to the lack of humidity and corks. I try to avoid putting traditionally corked whites in the fridge until shortly before drinking them (my cabinets are set quite cool anyway) but so many are screwcap or DIAM now (I don’t know if the latter has the same problem)


#4

Do you know Jancis’ precise words and context? I vaguely recall her saying something similar too, but all I can find is in The 24 Hour Wine Expert, a lot more moderate, and I presume a reference to wine developing more slowly and differently:“Be careful of leaving wine in a fridge for more than a few days: long-term storage in a fridge can rob a wine of some of its life and flavour.”


#5

I was lead to believe (in both WSET courses) that it was to do with the cork potentially drying out and shrinking due to lack of humidity - but I thought it only applied to traditional cork, as per @Jcbl’s post. And it only applied to white wines stored this way over a very long period. I doubt anyone actually does that anyway?


#6

Corks drying out is a whole topic in itself.

My theory is that, because wine has traditionally been stored in damp cellars with no ill effect, that has been assumed to be an ideal and/or essential environment.

Despite what is often repeated, I find it beyond belief that, when one end of a cork is submerged in wine (or even not actually in the wine, but a few mm away), it is going to dry out because the humidity outside the bottle is a tad low. Also, while it is true that fridges do tend to dry the air in them, a normal household fridge is frequently opened, which allows in a blast of humid air each time.

That’s all theoretical. But also, practically speaking, I know of no one whose wine was ruined primarily by a cork shrinking due to dehydration. Certainly, eventually corks lose elasticity and lose grip on the bottle, but usually when that happens they are a soggy moist mess.


#7

This was the subject of a long discussion on another forum where Steve was the voice of science/reason as usual :wink:. Short précis is - a non-issue in almost all circumstances.


#8

I keep about 15-20 bottles of white wine in a quite cold fridge. As they get taken out in a pretty random way, some are not there for long, some probably for weeks or months. I don’t think any for years but I wouldn’t guarantee it. I’ve never had any wine suffer for it, or at least not that I’ve noticed. They usually have to warm up a bit to get the full flavour, but otherwise they’re fine.


#9

Science geek mode on !

Fully agree with the sentiment - whilst a fridge is low relative humidity, as long as the bottle is laid down, then there is always one end of the cork in contact with liquid and therefore being ‘wetted’

as for bottles that are stood up - im thinking it would have to be in the cold fridge for some time to have any affect…assuming it has been stored properly (laid down in the past) prior to being placed in the fridge)


#10

Many thanks to all that replied, it is clear that the effects, if present, would be very small. Of course, if one has a CoraVin system, one can do the test…


#11

I have kept wines in the garage for prolonged intervals of ‘fridge’ temperature with zero ill effects so far. The garage is obviously a much better ventilated and more humid environment.


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