Wine Serving Temperature

wine serving temperatureWine Serving Temperature

By Mark Adams

Mark is a professional winemaker, former winery owner, author and frequent speaker on wine.  He currently teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

Whats the correct wine serving temperature?  The real answer is whatever temperature you prefer.  The actual answer is like all things in wine, it’s purely subjective.  But lets look at some guidelines below that will help you get started.

Sometimes during a wine class, someone will feel that I am serving wine that is too warm.  I dig a little deeper and find that they are accustomed to drinking their wine directly from the refrigerator.   The problem with that is that most refrigerators are set to about 40 degrees.

That’s great for beer or soft drinks, but way to cold for wine. If a wine is too cold, it loses most of its flavor.  Literally the flavor molecules slow down and you lose the aromas that are so important to wine tasting.  If it’s too warm, it’s just not refreshing.

The perfect temperature for whites is about 55 degrees.  At 55, it’s still cool enough to be refreshing and feel chilled, but warm enough for the aromas and ultimately the taste to be at their maximum.  OK, if this is the right temperature, how to I get my wine to 55?

The perfect solution is to buy a home wine refrigerator.  They are usually available anyplace where electronics are sold.  Units range in price but in some cases can be as low as $100.  A great investment for when you become a regular wine drinker.

Another solution to serving wine at the right temperature is to take your wine out of the main refrigerator and set it on the counter for about a half hour.  The temperature will rise about 3-4 degrees every 10 minutes.  The downside is that it’s incredible hard to look at the bottle that long without drinking it.

It’s kind of like going through the drive thru, ordering fries and seeing them on the passenger seat and telling yourself that you are going to wait until you get home until you eat them.  It’s just not humanly possible.

If you find that your wine is too cold, say in a restaurant, use body heat to your advantage.  Cup your hands around the bowl of the glass for a couple of minutes and you should be OK.

Champagne on the other hand is an exception the white wine temperature range.  It is designed to be server a bit colder than “still” wine.  I personally like my sparkling wines to be about 45 degrees.  Another reason for this is that the colder the bottle, (to a point) the lesser the carbon dioxide expands which actually make the bottle easier and safer to open.

I think the perfect temperature for red is about 64 or 65 degrees.  Blasphemy you say!  What, I thought reds were supposed to be a room temperature.  Well, yes and no.  It really depends on what you standard of room temperature is.  If you think back a few hundred years when wine was dominated by the French, the standard trendsetter was some type of royal who lived in a large chateau with 2 foot thick stone walls.

Think of the times you’ve walked through buildings like that.  They’re really cold.  Room temperature a couple of hundred years ago and before central heating was probably in the low to mid 60’s.  Not the 72 most people think of today.  So through the years, people remembered the room temperature part, but forgot that room temperature is different from era to era.

So the result is that today, we drink our reds at our room temperature, not in the low to mid sixties.  About 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator or about 5-10 in the freezer should do the trick

If you like your wine at 72, by all means drink it at 72.  But I would also encourage you to try your wine with a slight chill and see which one you like best.  Remember, drink what you like and how you like it.  The wine serving temperature is up to you

I’m reminded of a lady who came into the winery and said she microwaved her wine.  When she told me, I was waiting for a punch line to the joke, but it never came.   She was serious and said she just liked it really hot.  I wouldn’t recommend that you try this, but whatever works!

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