Wine Temperatures – How Low Should You Go?

The rule of thumb for drinking wine was always – drink red wine at room temp and white wine chilled or even cold.  But what happens if your “room temp” is 80 degrees or your room is not the lovely and cool 65 degrees (or less) of a wine cellar?  Or if the white wine is SO cold that is becomes tasteless?

Recommended temps for serving wine are actually lower that you would think and a pleasant surprise when applied properly … chilling the wine takes away the bite of the alcohol and allows the natural flavors of the wine to really show.

A rule of thumb from Ursula Hermacinski, the former Christie’s wine auctioneer about serving wine:

“Twenty minutes before dinner, you take the white wine out of the fridge, and put the red wine in.”

Keep in mind as well that wine should be stored between 53 – 57 degrees with a max of 65 degrees – much lower than the average room temp of 74 degrees.

From Snooth – Wine 101: Serving Temperatures:

Now, as far as serving wine goes, temperatures above around 65F tend to accentuate a wine’s flaws, and increase the perception of alcohol in a wine’s bouquet. All the aromas you can sense in wine are there because certain compounds are floating up out of solution. The alcohol helps to lift some of these compounds, but can become distracting when it actually burns your nose.

Serving wines at the right temperature allows each wine’s volatile aromatic compounds to be released slowly, joining in a rich, complex bouquet. Too cold, and the wine’s nose is dumb, or not expressive. Too hot and everything flies out like a bat out of hell, leaving you with one confused glass of wine. Just right and, well, it can be awesome!

The serving temperature also has an effect on the textural perceptions one gets from the acids and tannins that make up a wine’s structure. As a wine’s serving temperature goes down, the perception of acid increases. That’s not terribly surprising since we do tend to love our crisp white rather cool, frequently too cool, to extract maximum crispness from them!

So how do you ensure that wine is at the correct temperature?  A cooling system or thermometer are on the right track and when all else fails … ice cubes!  (ssshhhhh – we don’t want to offend any of the wine gods with that idea!)

Williams and Sonoma has a Screwpull Wine Thermometer and for the ultimate wino, Brookstone has a one bottle iceless wine chiller (I LOVE THIS!).

Cheers and remember to keep it cool!


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