After a day hiking you come back to your trailer, open up a bottle of wine only to find out that it’s too warm, or worse, spoiled because it’s been sitting in a hot trailer. If you travel during the summer your travel trailer can quickly reach 90F+ if your air conditioning is off while you are out hiking or on the road with your trailer.
These are our tested and proven recommendations for storing your wine while traveling, our favorite tools for enjoying wine while camping and tips on how to select the right wine for harsher conditions.
Key Principles: Temperature
Heat is the primary enemy of wine. High temperatures over 90F will make the wine cork swell and break the seal on the wine to quickly spoil. Even if the seal doesn’t break, a bottle of wine that gets too hot can taste cooked or bitter and become cloudy or brown. There’s a 50% or better chance that wine sitting in a 95F trailer for 6+ hours will spoil.
There are two key principles for making sure your wine survives your trip.
Principle #1: Keep your wine between 45F and 65F if you can.
Principle #2: Keep your wine at a constant temperature. Avoid extreme variations in temperature, such as 40F at night, then 80F during the day. Within a few days or weeks, the expansion and contraction caused by the heat can push a cork out or wine to seep out.
Storing Your Wine
1. Use the Fridge
If your trailer refrigerator is large enough, this is the ideal location. Keeping your red and white bottles in a refrigerator is fine for a few weeks or months, but not a good choice long-term. However, if you’re bringing wine with you in your trailer, chances are you’re going to consume it within a few weeks anyway.
White wine is intended to be drunk slightly cooler, 50F-55F. Take your white wine bottle out 30 minutes or so before you plan to drink it. Let your red wine bottle warm up longer to about 65F before drinking, or you’ll lose a lot of the flavor drinking red wine too cold.
2. Cardboard Inserts
If your trailer fridge is only large enough for 2-3 bottles, you’ll need alternative storage methods.
Keep the cardboard or pulp wine shipping inserts that you get when you receive a shipment of wine. These are ideal for helping to insulate the wine bottle, and also store it securely in a drawer in your trailer without risking the bottles clanking into each other when you’re on the road.
3. Heat Rises, Use an Ice Pack
Since heat rises, try to store your wine in your trailer lower to the floor where it will be a bit cooler.
If you won’t have your air conditioning on for several hours on a hot day, use an ice pack from the freezer by wrapping it in a towel (so the condensation doesn’t end up on the labels), and put one or two ice packs in the inserts and drawer where you are storing your wine. We keep two Cooler Shock freeze packs in our freezer for this.
If it’s likely to get very hot in the trailer (over 100F) for multiple hours, we put the wine bottles and an icepack in a separate cooler and bring it with us in our air-conditioned car.
Three Wine Accessories for Traveling
Drinking Outside by the Pool
Perhaps like us, you like to have a glass of wine while sitting out by the pool or the beach. For safety and appearances, you typically cannot have open alcoholic beverage containers or glass containers in these locations. But drinking out of paper or plastic cups just doesn’t have the same level of enjoyment, especially if you’re enjoying an exceptional bottle of wine.
The solution here is the Corkcicle Canteen. which is triple-insulated, stainless steel, and at 25 ounces, allows you to bring an entire bottle of wine (24 ounces) with you. We pair these with the Corkcicle stemless glass, which is also triple-insulated stainless steel and includes a spill-resistant lid, perfect to keep the bugs out.
Wine Pourer with a Filter
Older wines and natural wines tend to have more sediment. If you’re drinking your wine at home where the bottle has been stored properly, it’s easy to minimize the sediment much since it’s at the bottom of the bottle. However, if you’ve been traveling with an older bottle, the sediment will be integrated into the wine much more will be quite noticeable. If you’re sensitive to sediment in your wine, keep a set of wine pourers with a built-in filter in your trailer for such occasions.
The best and most affordable way to store a partial bottle of wine that you haven’t finished for up to two days is to add a stopper, pump out the air in the bottle, and then store the partial bottle in your fridge. This is as true at home as it is for camping. For camping, you need to ensure you have a stopper that won’t pop out of the bottle while you’re driving your trailer down a bumpy road. We recommend the Vacu Vin Wine Saver Concerto with stoppers, which are often used by wineries to store opened bottles in the tasting room. The stoppers click when they are sealed.
Best Wines for Camping
No matter what you do, the bottles of wine you take with you camping or in your trailer are necessarily going to be subject to harsher conditions than those bottles pristinely nestled in a climate-controlled wine refrigerator or wine cellar. Given this reality, you can also improve your wine drinking experience while traveling by selecting wines that are hardier and will hold up better while camping.
For reds, these are likely to be bigger, full-bodied wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Nebbiolo, with alcohol levels of 14% or higher. The higher tannins and higher alcohol will help protect the wines from higher temperatures and temperature fluctuations.
The white wines that will stand up to harsher conditions are full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay, Viognier and Albariño.
Here are some suggestions from wineries in California you can use to experiment with new varieties of wine. When you order a few bottles online, and you’ll also end up with the wine packing inserts to use for storing bottles in your travel trailer in the future.
The J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon and Riverstone Chardonnay are excellent, high-quality options at very fair prices. The Cabernet will pair very well with steak or burgers.
The Croma Vera Wines Tempranillo Maduro and Albariño are exceptional premium-quality options at a higher price point. Tempranillo is in our opinion the ideal wine for camping since it is so versatile and has a rustic, earthy character, and pairs well with burritos, tacos, chicken, lamb and pork chops, stir-fry and steak.
The Opolo Mountain Zinfandel and Malbec are popular options for those who like big, fruity Zinfandels. Zinfandel will pair well with just about any hearty meal, from barbeque pork ribs, brisket, kebabs, or just about any kind of grilled meats.
The Tooth & Nail red blends are big wines, well made, and certain to delight.