Wine Temperature Serving Guide
One of the most common misconceptions in wine drinking, which leads directly to the quality of experience when consuming, is the temperature at which each type of wine should be consumed. The common thought is that reds are best enjoyed at room temperature, and whites and sparkling wine are best enjoyed after being refrigerated.
This is a theory of convenience rather than one of precision. While it is true that, generally, whites are to be served at lower temperatures, there is much more to the story. We’re here to educate you on the optimal temperature you should consume your wine of choice.
The Science behind Wine Temperature
Wine tasting, much like winemaking, is a science. It is as delicate of a craft as its production, and many drinkers take it as seriously as those who produce the wine.
Due to the different chemical compositions of different grapes, soil, and eventually the end product itself, the optimal serving temperature varies. Tannins, alcohol content and a variety of other chemical factors impact the feel and taste when reaching the palate.
The best temperature to serve wine depends on your personal preference, color, and style. Whites are to be served at lower temperatures than reds, and fuller-bodied wines are to be served at higher temperatures than their lighter-bodied counterparts of the same color.
Amongst all, sparkling wine should be consumed at the coldest temperatures.
So What about the Bubbly? Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature
The reason sparkling wines such as Cava and Champagne are to be served colder than other wines has everything to do with the bubbles. The essence of sparkling wine is the bubbles; they heavily impact the wine's taste, feel, and quality.
The wine must be opened cold to ensure that they are consistent and strong. The warmer the temperature, the quicker the bottle of sparkling will become flat once opened due to the loss of carbon dioxide. To best enjoy your bubbly, make sure to keep it chilly!
White Wine Serving Temperature
While not designed to be served as cool as sparkling wine, most whites should be served cold. Due to this notion, many just simply put their white in the fridge, regardless of variety, and serve it as is.
Due to the blanket fridge to glass technique common amongst many Americans, there is often a forfeit of quality. The flavor profile of a wine is sacrificed when served too cold. That's why it's best to serve it as cold as possible when you're drinking three buck chuck.
Wine Temperature and Aromas
On top of the physical taste of wine changing due to temperatures, the aromas also change. This, the same with reds, is a key aspect of serving temperature.
We know the importance of scent and aroma in food and wine and how they refer to taste. Temperature is similar in importance to the decanting wine as it refers to the importance of oxygen to enhance the wine and bring out certain flavors and aromas.
There is a sweet spot with oxygen, as there is with temperature. Too cold, and a wine’s flavors will often be masked, but too warm and they will overwhelming.
Red Wine Serving Temperature
The same goes for red wines, too. Generally, your Pinot Noir and lighter-bodied reds will be served at a lower temperature than your fuller-bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.
Even these heavier-bodied reds should be served at a temperature just below room temperature. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a slightly cool cellar or just purchased a bottle, the best way is to put a bottle in the fridge, anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. This will bring the wine down just a few degrees for optimal consumption.
Preparing Your Wine
With whites, it is recommended to leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours, depending on the style and the temperature of your particular refrigerator. If left overnight, you may want to let your bottle rest outside in order for it to cool down or simply swirl it around your glass once poured. Often, whites are served far too cold, and the low temperatures mask much of the flavor.
A quick, common, and easy way to chill down a white is with a few ice cubes, but we generally recommend against it. If you’re in a hurry, most wine shops have a chilled section for whites or can benefit from just a short time in a freezer. If just consuming alcohol is your intention or enjoying a glass on the cheaper side, sure, a few ice cubes won’t hurt, but they can dilute the flavor with the additional water.
Precise Wine Serving Temperatures
To be exact, you could use a thermometer, but generally, wines are to be consumed in a particular temperature range according to their style. The issue with referring to ‘room temperature as a temperature of reference for wine has its issues. First, room temperature varies heavily from household to household and differs greatly by geographic area. Second, it varies heavily by the season, even in one particular place.
Sparkling wines should be served in the low 40s, followed by lighter-bodied whites in the upper 40s. Rosé wine falls into the middle zone, often with the heavier-bodied ones around the low to mid-50s, but remember, this is all a matter of personal preference.
The lighter-bodied reds generally fall in the 55-60 degree range, while our heavier-bodied reds are best enjoyed from roughly 60-65 degrees.
As you can see, the top range of reds is to be enjoyed at a maximum temperature of 65 degrees, slightly cooler than room temperature in almost every home. Unless you have a cellar, a bottle could benefit from a few minutes in a fridge.
The same goes for whites - the average refrigerator temperature is between 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit and would be too cold for all, but especially medium and heavier-bodied whites such as Reisling or Chardonnay.
Dessert wine, encompassing a few different styles such as Port and Sherry, are best enjoyed at a bit higher temperature, close to red wine.
When enjoyed at a cooler temperature, sweet wine often tastes thinner and less sweet compared to when it is enjoyed at a higher temperature. In the 60s, it often seems denser and can bring some extra complexity and sweetness.
So Now What? Enjoy Your Wine!
In wine, much like in life, trust your judgment! Hardly anyone is testing their wine with a thermometer, but it is important to know the basics. These general rules can help you enjoy your wine just a bit more or possibly bring out a layer of complexion previously unknown. It’s all a matter of personal preference, and we want you to drink your wine however you most enjoy it!