Does Wine Serving Temperature Matter?
In a word, yes.
Although wine serving temperature is somewhat objective,the temperature at which you serve your wine will affect its aroma, taste and presentation.
Here are basic guidelines everyone who wants to fully enjoy their wine should know.
Red Wine Serving Temperature
It’s better to serve your red wine too cold than too warm. In our experience, nothing ruins a fine red wine more quickly than drinking it at too high a temperature.
A red wine served too warm loses its freshness and many of its characteristic aromas and flavors.
Above 65°F, a red wine imparts too much of its alcohol content as flavor, never a desirable taste.
It’s more convenient to allow a wine to warm up in its glass than to put it back in the refrigerator or ice bucket. One easy way to warm up a glass of wine is to cup your hands around the glass while you swirl.
A common misconception is that red wine should be served at “room temperature”. This makes no sense since depending upon geography and season, your room may be much warmer or colder than my room.
You do not want to serve your red wine at a temperature higher than 60-65°F, depending upon the type of red wine. You will want to serve Beajoulais, a light, fruity red at the lowest temperature (approximately 55°F), your medium bodied reds such as Chiante, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel at a slightly higher temperature (approximately 60°F), and your full bodied reds such as Bordeaux, Cabernet, Merlot, and Shiraz a hint warmer (approximately 63-65°F).
To reach the proper wine serving temperature, it is best to have the correct type of home storage unit so your wines are kept at a constant 55-60°F.
However, if your red wine has been stored at room temperature, you’ll want to either put it in the refrigerator or into an ice bucket for 30-60 minutes before serving. Be sure to include water with the ice – it will chill more quickly.
White Wine Serving Temperature
For white wines, the opposite may be true. It’s better to serve a white wine too warm than too cold. White wines served too cold (under 45°F) lose many of their flavors and aromas.
However, you still want to serve your white wines colder than your red wines. Serving white wines at a lower temperature brings out their natural fruity, fresh, and sweet characteristics.
You will want to serve your white wines at 45-55°F, depending upon the wine and your personal preference. A Reisling will be better a bit colder than a Pinot Gris or a Chardonnay.
Since most home refrigerators are kept at between 35-40°F, it’s best not to serve your white wines right out of the refrigerator.
Removing your white wine from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving should bring them to about the right temperature. And, you can always warm the wine up by cupping your hands around the glass as you swirl.
If your white wine has been kept at room temperature, place it in the refrigerator or ice bucket for 30-60 minutes before serving.
Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature
A good sparkling wine (champagne) is best served just a hint colder than a white wine. You can usually drink your sparkling wine right out of the refrigerator at about 40°F, but you may find its flavors are enhanced if you let it stand for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Fortified Wine and Dessert Wine Serving Temperature
These wine serving temperatures are a little harder to categorize. There is such a wide variety of vintages, flavors, aromas and body types in fortified and dessert wine, the temperature to serve these really varies.
In general, if your wine is lighter, fruitier, and younger, it should be served slighter cooler. If it’s older, heavier, and more complex, it should be served slightly warmer.
An exception, of course, is ice wine, who by its very name indicates it should be served very chilled, even more so than sparkling wine.
We hope these wine serving temperatures are helpful. Remember that they are really just guidelines.
Wine is meant to be enjoyed so it is ultimately up to you, the host or hostess, to determine the exact wine temperature that suits your palate and the palate of your guests.
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