The Serving Temperature Can Dramatically Affect the Way a Wine Tastes

Wine should be fun and enjoyable. And, my motto on is 'Drink what you like.' So, I try to keep things simple and make your wine experience more enjoyable.  And while the temperature of the wine you drink may seem unimportant, or even a bit snobbish to talk about, it really can affect your wine experience.

The bottom line is that the temperature at which a wine is served matters.  And here's why.  The 'proper' serving temperature will ensure that you get the best experience from your wine.  Serve it too cold or too warm and you can loose a lot of the wine's character.

This is partly due to your nose and how a wine's aroma works along with its taste. And aroma is greatly affected by the wine's temperature.  A cold wine will have less of an aroma because fewer of the volatile compounds will be released from the wine. Conversely, a warmer wine will easily release these compounds and give you an opportunity to experience the wine's full aroma.

Then there's the way a wine tastes.  Serving a white wine too cold will mute its fruit flavors. White wines taste good when they are served cool because of their acidity and negligible tannin. The fruit flavors are zippy and bright and a bit of a chill will enhance this.  But full bodied white wines that have been aged in oak (e.g., Chardonnay) are best served not quite so cool to allow you experience the buttery and vanilla flavors that oak imparts.

Serving a red wine too cold will emphasize its acidity, bitterness and tannin.   But serving a red wine at room temperature is a bit too warm and can make it seem heavy, lifeless and emphasize the alcohol, yielding a burning sensation in your throat.

So, here are some general guidelines for the 'proper' serving temperatures of wines:

  • Sparkling Wine: 42° - 50° F
  • Light Whites: 46° - 54° F
  • Full Bodied Whites: 54° - 60° F
  • Rosé: 45° - 55° F
  • Light Reds: 50° - 54° F
  • Medium Reds: 57° - 63° F
  • Full Bodied Reds: 59° - 65° F

And while most people don't have specialized multi-zone wine refrigerators to precisely control their wine temperatures, or take the time to use a fancy wine thermometer, here are a couple quick rules-of-thumb.  Sparking wine can be store and served directly from a kitchen refrigerator. With white wine, place it in your kitchen refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving. Or, if it's been stored in a kitchen refrigerator, remove it 30 minutes before serving.  For red wines, put them in a kitchen refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. This way, your white wines will be cool but not cold and your reds will be slightly cooled and not too warm.

If you really like your red and white wines at kitchen refrigerator temperatures or your red wines at room temperature, go ahead and continue enjoying them. But at some point, give these temperature suggestions a try. Who knows, you might find that your favorite wines are even better at the recommended temperatures. Cheers!