We’ve all been there before, we had a party and stocked our fridge full of great beer and wine, but at the end of the night, there was a good amount leftover, and ideally, we’d like to make room for the other things we need to keep cool, such as that gallon of milk for the coffee we’ll desperately need the next day. But if you don’t have another fridge readily available, are you hurting your wine or beer by removing it from its chilled environment and storing it at room temperature, only to chill the beverage back down the next time you want to consume it? Yes and no, let us explain.
Temperature fluctuations aren’t great for wine or beer for two main reasons: first, while the bottle you have your beer or wine stored in isn’t really impacted by a temperature change, the closure certainly is. If the temperature fluctuates enough times during the life of that one particular bottle, the closure will start to loosen, and that means oxygen can get in, breaking down the wine and making the beer go flat, which isn’t a libation anyone wants to drink.
The other reason to try and avoid temperature fluctuations is that, especially if extreme, they can start to impact the overall flavor and chemistry of the beverage. In wine, when a bottle gets too cold, it can actually slow down the ageing process, impacting the aroma and flavor and at hot temperatures the wine can cook, leaving you with a bottle that tastes like stewed prunes. Mold is also a potentially culprit of temperatures fluctuations, especially if you move a bottle from the fridge to a basement or hot garage, the condensation that develops could yield to mold growing on the cork, and no one wants to discover that when they’re finally ready to pop the bottle. In regards to beer, the fluctuations in temperature impact the beverage in very similar ways, if you’ve ever had a “skunked” beer, you’ve possibly tasted the ramifications of temperature fluctuations first hand.
But just because something could happen to your wine or beer by changing the temperature doesn’t mean you should be terrified of making room in your fridge if you really need to. Just be aware of how many times the bottles you need to move have changed temperature. For example, if you bought the wine or beer at room temperature, moved it to the fridge, and then moved it back to room temperature, this two time temperature fluctuation probably won’t have a massive impact. But, if you went from the cool fridge at the store to the counter in your kitchen, then back to the fridge, then to the basement and then back to the fridge again for the next party, these changes in temperature would be enough to start potentially altering the wine or beer, and loosening that closure just enough to let oxygen start to slip in.
So as much as you can, once your bottle is cold, try to keep it that way, and try to leave room for your milk!