Should Cabernet Sauvignon Be Chilled? + Storing Tips

Updated February 12, 2022
red wine pouring from bottle to wineglasses

Do you ever chill cabernet sauvignon? While traditionally, cab sauvs aren't chilled, certain styles are great served at a cooler temperature. Depending on the bottle temperature while in storage, you may want to either let it warm up or chill it down prior to pouring. Ultimately, there are no hard a fast rules for chilling cabernet sauvignon, but rather serving suggestions to make sure your wine is drinking at its very best.

When Do You Chill Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet sauvignon is the bold and beautiful full-bodied red everyone knows and loves. Once you've chosen your bottle, the question becomes, to chill or not to chill? Taking into account the storage temperature can help guide you to the proper serving temperature for cabernet sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon Serving Temperature Infographic

Storage Temps for Cabernet Sauvignon

When you store cabernet sauvignon, you chill it to a temperature lower than room temp. Red wines contain tannins that give the wine structure. The presence of tannins in cabernet sauvignon makes it a wine that ages well, particularly Old World style wines from Bordeaux. In some cases, you can age cabernet sauvignon wines for decades to allow the tannins to soften and the wine to develop its full complement of flavors. Because cabernet sauvignon wines age so well, storing them at the proper temperature is essential. If the wines are too warm during storage, they may lose flavor prematurely or become cooked.

When storing wines for several years, temperature, light, humidity and vibration all play a role, so it is best to store age-worthy cabernet sauvignons in a temperature and humidity controlled environment away from vibration. Rapid changes in temperature can also harm wine you are aging, so it is important to maintain a steady temperature that varies no more than a few degrees at a time. The ideal temperature for storing cabernet sauvignon wine is 52°F (11°C), which is slightly chilled, although the wine will fare well in temperatures between 40-65°F (5-18°C) provided there are no fluctuations in temperature. A wine refrigerator provides a good storage option for aging wines at the right temperature.

Cab's Best Serving Temperature

While many people believe that room temperature is ideal for serving red wines, this is actually a myth. Red wines flower into full flavor at a temperature that is slightly cooler than room temperature--so very slightly chilled. For full-bodied reds, like cabernet sauvignon, the ideal serving temperature is 60°F (16°C), although the wine's flavors will present well anywhere between 55 -65°F (15-18°C). For wine that has been properly stored, this means you need to warm it up slightly after removing it from the wine fridge by leaving it at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If the wine has been stored at room temperature, you will need to chill it slightly by refrigerating it for 30 minutes.

Maintaining Cabernet Sauvignon Temperature

As you drink the wine, it will warm slightly, causing subtle changes to the wine's character. To maintain the temperature of the wine as you drink it in order to allow it to warm to room temperature more slowly, hold the wine glass by the stem. When you hold the wine glass by the bowl, your hand warms the wine more rapidly.

Drinking to Perfection

So, the basics are if you store the wine at room temperature, then you should chill cabernet sauvignon it prior to serving, but if it's coming from storage temp, you'll want to let it warm up slightly. Finding that sweet spot will allow all the aromas and nuances in flavor to come through.

Should Cabernet Sauvignon Be Chilled? + Storing Tips