Serving wine at certain temperatures isn’t just a matter of custom. Wine temperature affects how wine smells and tastes, so it’s important to choose the right temperature to enjoy the greatest depth of flavor. When wine is too cool, the nuances are lost and its flavors are muted. When too warm, the alcohol can overtake your palate, leaving the wine tasting flat and disappointing. For the best balance of flavor, you want a temperature that is just right. The best serving temperature varies from style to style, so we’ve put together this handy guide.
Red wines are generally best between 62°-68°F. While this is relatively warm for wine serving temperatures, keep in mind that it’s still cooler than room temperature, which is about 70°F. So, it’s good to take the bottle out of your wine refrigerator or cellar a while before drinking, but it does not need to warm completely or feel warm to the touch.
White Wines and Rosés
White wines and rosés tend have the best flavor between 49°-55°F, though sometimes lower serving temperatures are better. Lighter-bodied white wines like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are often more refreshing when served as low as 44°F, highlighting their crispness and acidity. Oaked white wines and others with more complexity should be a little warmer, however. If you’re keeping the bottle at the table with you, a wine chiller can keep it at temperature between servings.
Expensive vs. Cheap Wines
Generally speaking, more expensive wines open up and present more aroma and flavor as they warm. This is the best way to ensure you appreciate the full complexity of the wine. On the other hand, younger and less expensive wines are often best at cooler temperatures. In a way, this can mask the flaws or the immaturity of a young wine, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, finding the ideal serving temperature with cheaper wines is a matter of experience.
Quickly Changing Wine Temperature
The best way to quickly chill a bottle of wine is to put it in a bucket of ice with enough water to make it slushy. With ice cold water in contact with the bottle, the wine will chill between 10 and 30 minutes. Some people stash the bottle in their freezer instead, but this can be catastrophic if you forget about it. The wine could explode and then you’ve got a huge mess to deal with in addition to having lost your bottle of bubbly. We find ice buckets to be quicker and less dangerous.
Need to warm up a bottle of wine? If you’re using a decanter, red wine usually warms enough while you’re waiting for it to breathe. If you plan to use an aerator and need to warm red wine faster, you can put the bottle in warm water briefly. Keep in mind that the wine will also warm quickly once it’s in the glass, especially if you use the right stemware.
Even if you have a cellar, a wine cooler refrigerator can be a wonderful investment. They’re not ideal for aging wines long term, but they’re excellent for storage of wines you plan to drink soon. Many are dual zone, so you can store reds and whites at different temperatures. Some are even capable of keeping white wines at serving temperature. This is convenient, since the temperature of the fridge in your kitchen is actually a bit colder than recommended. (Most standard kitchen refrigerators keep food at about 39°F.)