I recently returned home with an unopened, chilled bottle of sparkling wine. Can I return it to the shelf or would it be best to keep it chilled?
The wine will be fine, though my advice is to keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge at all times in case of emergency, because celebrations can sneak up on you.
There is, to be fair, a legitimate caveat against storing wine in rooms that tend to fluctuate a lot temperature-wise. But this generally applies to spaces with constant shifts – high, low, high, low. The main reason concerns the effects of air rather than actual temperature. As liquids heat up and cool down, they expand and contract. Most wine bottles are sealed under cork, which is porous. As liquid expands and contracts inside a hard-glass container, it works like a piston, pushing air out through the cork and then sucking it back in. And air is wine’s major enemy. You end up with a bruised, tired, desiccated beverage. But a one-time swing is no biggie.
Which is not to say heat is benign when it comes to wine. A high temperature for a sustained period will “cook” the liquid and ruin it. But unless the wine is heated much beyond room temperature, it will fare just fine after a few temperature swings in its life.
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The Flavour Principle, by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol, was named best Canadian Food & Drinks Book in the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Published by HarperCollins.