Zinfandel is a red wine ranging from medium to full-bodied, with a sweet ripe berry flavour and, usually, a high alcohol content - but do you chill it?
In this post, you'll discover everything you need to know about ‘should Zinfandel be chilled’. We’ll also cover Zinfandel best serving temperature, storage temperature and how long you should chill it.
Listen to this post here:
Should Zinfandel Be Chilled?
Yes, Zinfandel should be chilled. Zinfandel, like other red wines, should be served chilled just below room temperature. The exact temperature depends on if it's full-bodied or light-bodied Zinfandel:
- Light-bodied: easier to drink red Zinfandels should be served between 15 - 18°C (60 - 65°F)
- Full-bodied: heavier red Zinfandels should be served between 18 - 22°C (65 - 72°F)
Heres a quick breakdown of serving and storage temperatures for Zinfandel:
|Zinfandel Wine||Temperature Range|
|Serving Temperature||57°F to 72°F
15°C to 22°C
|Storage Temperature||55°F to 59°F
12°C to 15°C
Best Serving Temperature for Zinfandel
Serving Zinfandel too warm will render even the heaviest red Zinfandel unenjoyable. Higher temperatures cause the wine to emit a strong aroma of alcohol.
If this is the case, holding the bottle under your nose will emphasize this aroma and achieve what has been named, “nasal burn”.
Best Storage Temperature for Zinfandel
Zinfandel is best stored in a refrigerator at 12-15°C (55°-59°F), in darkness with 70% humidity.
Full-bodied Zinfandels' ideal storage is up to 10 years, and for lighter-bodied Zinfandels it's shorter at 3-5 years.
Storage of Unopened Zinfandel
The best storage temperature is 12-15°C (55°-59°F) for red Zinfandel in a basement wine cellar, fridge, or cabinet.
Avoiding alternate extremes of temperature is more important than exact temperature maintenance as liquid contraction and expansion are undesirable.
Aim for temperature consistency rather than concentrating on minor fluctuations as well as avoiding any need to restore the wine.
For example, if your wine is aerated and already at serving temperature when you get it out to drink, simply enjoy it.
You will often hear that wines are best stored at 70% humidity. The idea behind this advice is the theory that dry air will dehydrate the cork causing shrinkage and, inevitably, entry of air into the bottle which will spoil the wine.
This is a possibility, but usually only if you live in an extremely hot or cold region. 50-80% humidity is considered safe.
A bowl or pot of water in the storage area will certainly improve humidity.
On the other hand, very damp conditions will create the perfect environment for mould. If the bottles are properly sealed, this will not affect the wine, but it will, however, destroy the label. If the label is important, a dehumidifier will solve this issue.
Orientation of Bottles
If Zinfandel is to be stored over a long period, the bottles should lay flat if they have a cork.
If you plan to drink the wine within a short to mid-term period, there is no need to lay the bottles flat if they have an alternative closure, such as screw caps or glass/plastic tops
The traditional storage method is to lay bottles flat on their sides with the idea of preventing dehydration of the corks.
Whether they are stored lying on their sides or not, the wine itself will be unaffected. Storage of bottles lying flat is also known as racking. The racking of bottles has the added advantage of saving space.
Light, particularly sunlight, is a problem where wine is stored over a long period. The sun’s UV rays will damage and age the wine prematurely. Most wine bottles are made with tinted or coloured glass to prevent the penetration of sunlight.
However, it does not block sunlight completely; therefore, Zinfandel is best stored in darkness.
All wine coolers have UV filtering glass, to prevent sunlight from damaging the wine.
Storage Areas for Unopened Zinfandel
In the absence of a wine cellar, simple racks in an undisturbed area will be sufficient.
Laundry rooms and utility rooms are not the best places to store Zinfandel wine as high temperatures, vibrations from the use of machines and daily commotion are likely to cause damage to the wine.
Related: How To Store Red Wine (Full Guide)
As already mentioned, choose somewhere away from direct sunlight which could enter through any large windows. A kitchen is a good place provided you have a wine refrigerator which will keep the surrounding conditions of the wine constant.
An open rack in the kitchen is unadvisable for long-term storage if you are expecting good wine.
Kitchen refrigerators are too cold and dry for storing wine and you should not store your wine in them for more than a few weeks.
The cork will incur damage and allow airflow into the bottle which will prematurely age and spoil the wine.
In this case, do you refrigerate wine?
Wine refrigerators are a good investment, and the above guidelines should be followed. If you place your wine refrigerator in an area with a lower temperature, it will require less energy than if it is placed in a laundry room or a kitchen.
A good wine fridge will ensure wines, including your Zinfandel and other varieties such as malbec, are kept at the correct temperature, it will maintain humidity and will not have any vibrations to cause damage to the wine and it will keep conditions consistent.
Wine refrigerators also have doors made with tinted glass to prevent light penetration and therefore ensure the ideal conditions for long-term storage.
How Long Should You Chill Zinfandel?
The length of storage time will depend on the style of red Zinfandel wine.
Red Zinfandel can be divided into two categories.
Light Red Zinfandel
Zinfandels which are lighter-bodied can be stored for between 3 and 5 years.
Lighter red Zinfandels have an alcohol content of less than 12.5% and contain less tannin than fuller-bodied wines.
Tannins are compounds which occur naturally in grape skins and are responsible for increasing the ageing capability of the wine.
Full-Bodied Red Zinfandel
Zinfandels which are fuller-bodied can be stored for up to 10 years.
It’s important to note that this is not necessarily exact. These wines have a richer feel in the mouth, the flavours are complex, and they contain a greater alcohol content, of up to 13.5%.
Due to the above-mentioned tannins which come from the skins and seeds of the grapes, the wine is protected from the premature ageing process caused by oxygen.
Read our related wine articles:
Storing Opened Bottles of Zinfandel
If this is done, the fuller-bodied Zinfandel will remain in good condition for one to two weeks.
Lighter-bodied Zinfandel will last from three to five days. These guidelines also apply to unopened bottles.
If the length of time stored exceeds 5 days for the light-bodied Zinfandel, make sure you taste it before throwing it away as it may still be good.
Always try to use the original cork for storing once opened, otherwise a wine stopper can be used. This is to prevent the entry of oxygen into the wine. The less the amount of oxygen, the longer the wine will keep. Screw caps will also serve this purpose.
Always keep opened bottles of Zinfandel chilled.
A good place for open bottles is the kitchen refrigerator. However, I don’t recommend unopened bottles be stored here as it is open to vibrations, too cold and too dry for storing over longer periods.
Before You Go...
We hope you enjoyed our article on whether Zinfandel should be chilled.
Do you need to know how to chill other red wines correctly? Read our next article about chilling red wines correctly here...
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at email@example.com
You can browse more posts on Wine Types here.
Expert Wine Storage can help you find a luxury wine fridge to store your precious wine collection.