The perfect wine serving temperature is the temperature where the wine tastes the best to you. Pretty simple. Right? Well, kind of. If you want to be a savvy sipper, here are some helpful guidelines.
Perfect Wine Serving Temperature Guideline 1: White Wines Get the Big Chill
White wines should be served cold, but not ice cold — between 45 and 50 degrees. When you serve a white wine at too cold a temperature, especially a complex wine like a Chardonnay, some of the core flavors and aromas are masked. Think of eating a frozen pizza… definitely not the optimal tasting experience! Also, as a cold wine begins to warm, it will exude delicious and fruity aromas. These aromas are the first important factor to enjoying a wine. After all, 80 percent of tasting occurs in the nose.
So if you’ve had your wine chilling for a while, especially a Chardonnay, take it out of the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before you serve it and let it stand in the bottle at room temperature.
If you want to taste the difference, you can try this fun experiment. Pour yourself a glass of ice cold Chardonnay. Take a taste, and then let it sit for five minutes. Try it again, and let it sit for another five minutes, and so on. For most people, the warmer wine is much more flavorful to the palette than the cooler wine. See what you think.
Bottom line, if you’ve always served your white wines directly from the refrigerator, consider serving them just a few degrees warmer. You’ll be in for a big treat.
Perfect Wine Serving Temperature Guideline 2: Red Wines and the Room Temperature Myth
With red wines, the opposite is true. You want to serve your red wines slightly cooler than you might be used to. You can do this by putting the wine in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Here is the background. We all learned to serve red wine at room temperature. What nobody told us is they didn’t mean our room temperature. They didn’t mean 70 to 75 degrees. They meant the room temperature in France before central heating. In other words, a cool room temperature, perhaps at 60 to 65 degrees.
Red wine served at room temperature is likely to taste dull, flabby and hot (hot is the term used when alcohol dominates the taste and smell), while the same wine served at 60 to 65 degrees is likely to taste lighter, livelier, and fruitier.
To test this out, pour two identical red wines in two glasses. Put one in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Compare the two. No doubt you’ll find that the slightly cooler one will be more enjoyable and better balanced.
When dining out and ordering a red wine, place your hand on the bottle to make sure it’s slightly cool to the touch before the waitperson pours the glass. If it’s not, ask the waitperson to store the bottle in an ice bucket for 10 to 15 minutes. Just in case anyone loses track of time, an over-chilled red wine is by no means a disaster. The wine will warm up quickly in the glass just by leaving it alone. You can also speed up the warming of the wine by rolling the glass in your hands.
Here is a guide for ideal serving temperatures for a number of varietals:
- Riesling – 45°
- Sauvignon Blanc – 45°
- Pinot Grigio – 45°
- Chardonnay – 55-60°
- Pinot Noir – 55-60°
- Merlot – 60°
- Syrah/Shiraz – 65°
- Cabernet Sauvignon – 65°
If you have a preference for extra cold or extra warm wine, honor your preference. But do some experimenting to see if you notice differences at different temperatures. If it’s a very hot day, you will probably want to cool off every wine you drink by a few degrees.
How do you like to chill out with your wine, whether eating out or at home? Please share your preferences here.
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