Best Temperatures for Serving Wine

Most people who drink wine know, you serve white wine and champagne chilled, and reds can stand to be room temperature. What people may not know that the “room temperature” that wine hobbyists are referring to is the cooler standing temperature of wine caves in the Bordeaux region of France. Those caves are about 55 F.

A good wine fridge, ideally with two temperature zones for reds and whites, can keep your wines at a perfect serving temperature reducing the guesswork and, sometimes, the headache.

Temperature Affects Taste

The temperature that you serve the wine can seriously affect the way it tastes. When red wines are served too warm they tend to taste unbalanced with an alcohol edge. White wines taste especially flat and dull when sipped overly warm.

If the wines are served too cold then aromas and flavors will be suppressed and muted and, for reds, the tannins may seem harsh and astringent. Too often, white wines are served straight out of a fridge while reds are opened at a toasty room temperature, neither situation is ideal. 

Best Temperatures for Serving Wine

To serve your wines just right, take a look at the following wine serving temperature guidelines.

Wine TypeFahrenheitCelciusExamples
White Wines45 to 50 F7 to 10 CPinot Grigio, Chardonnay
Red Wines50 to 65 F10 to 18 CBordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon
Rosé Wines45 to 55 F7 to 13 FWhite Zinfandel
Sparkling Wines42 to 52 F6 to 11 CChampagne, Cava
Fortified Wines55 to 68 F13 to 20 CPort, Sherry

How to Take the Wine’s Temperature

Usually, instant digital thermometers can take a wine’s temperature through the bottle. There are some thermometers that you can stick in the mouth of an open bottle.

If you do not have a thermometer, then it is easy enough to touch the bottle and make a rough guess. The bottle should at least be cool to the touch. You will eventually understand when a bottle feels “right” to the touch.

Ways to Fix the Temperature

If your wines have been sitting out at room temperature, keep in mind that it can take an hour or two in a fridge to chill a white or sparkling wine to the right temperature. If your red is warm, it can’t hurt to put your red in the refrigerator to cool down a little, too.

On the other hand, a red taken out of a too-cool cellar or fridge may need up to a half-hour sitting out at room temperature. 

If a wine is too warm, fill a bucket with half ice and half water and submerge the bottle. This chills a bottle more quickly than ice alone. It may take about 10 minutes for a red to get to an ideal temperature and about 30 minutes for a sparkling wine. You can put a bottle in the freezer for 15 minutes, but do not forget it, the cork may explode or the wine bottle may break.

If the wine is too cold, decant it into a container rinsed in hot water or immerse it briefly in a bucket of warm water. Or, pour it into glasses and cup your hands around the glass to warm it up.

Keep in mind that a wine served cool will warm up in the glass, while a wine served warm will only get warmer. It’s always better to serve wine a little lower than the target temperature.

By Stacy Slinkard

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