Wine serving temperature
Wine serving temperature
Article By Allessandro Menegatti
Last week we started talking about how to pair wine and food, but before we continue in our
journey, I thought it could be important to spend a few words on proper wine serving
temperature. If you are thinking “Why is this important?”, think about ice cream. If you serve it
too hot, it will melt and turn into a cream. If you serve it too cold, it will taste like ice. It is all
about the balance between hot and cold. Wine is the same. It is all about balance. It is very
important to find the right temperature so that the flavors are at their best.
Once again if you search for the proper serving temperature for wines online, you will find a lot
of different articles, books, studies, etc. but how do we translate all of this into something we
can use on a daily base without having to research every time we want to enjoy a glass of wine?
First of all, we want to divide wines into three main groups:
– Whites and Rosés
Each one of these groups has a suggested range of temperatures in which the wine is supposed
to showcase the most of its flavors. This has to do with characteristics of the wine and the way it
was made. Hereafter you can see them listed for each group:
– Whites and Roses – 45° to 55° F (7° – 12° C)
– Reds – 55° to 65° F (12° – 19° C)
– Sparkling – 38° to 45° F (3° – 7° C)
If you noticed every group has a range of temperatures, but not a specific one. This is because
every wine is different, and it would be incorrect to state that every wine in a group should be
served at only one precise temperature. To give you an example, if we take the reds, a Pinot Noir
is for sure lighter and more aromatic than a Cabernet Sauvignon. While the first one is better
served around 55° F (12° C), the second one is better served closer to 65° F (19° C). How do we
choose then? As a general rule of thumb, body is what plays the biggest part in this decision. If
you are starting to get a bit overwhelmed by all the information, do not worry because once again
I have a very simple set of steps that we can follow to get a great result without having to research
and study every time.
The first very important step to consider even before we start talking about the wine, is to check
the temperature of our room (or the place where we will be serving our wine). In a lot of articles,
you will find words like “drink at room temperature”, but that is usually referring to cellar
temperature (around 55° F or 12°C). It is very important to know what the temperature of our
room is before we do anything else. I will give you an example of why this is so important. The
temperature in my house is around 75° F (24° C). If you look at the temperature ranges above,
you will notice that this is far off any of the suggested temperatures for any wine. If I just followed
the rule “drink at room temperature”, I would be drinking my wines at a way higher temperature
than ideal temperature. Again, if we think about the ice cream example, mine would be melting.
Now that we know how important this is, we can move to the next step.
It is time to decide if we need to refrigerate our wine before we drink it and for how long.
Assuming your fridge has a temperature around 40° F (4.5° C), here is what I do. If I’m serving a
red, I refrigerate it for 15 minutes before I open it. If I am serving a white or a rosé, I make sure I
have them in the fridge at least 2 hours before serving (better the day before) and then I take
them out of the fridge 15 minutes before I serve them. For sparkling wines, I have them in the
fridge at least 4 hours before serving (again better the day before), but before I serve them I
make sure to have them at least 15 minutes in a bucket with equal parts of ice and water in the
fridge. To summarize, always think about the wine at least 15 minutes before you start serving
it. Obviously your 15 minutes might change depending on how cold or hot your room is, but this
should cover the main scenarios to start. We can now move to the last step.
This is the most fun step. We have now our nice wine ready to be opened and served, but before
we can enjoy it, let us taste it and see what we think. Is it still too cold? Is it too hot? To help for
the first couple of times, it is very useful to have a kitchen thermometer, just to get an idea of
how close we are to the proper serving temperature and learn how that feels when we taste the
wine. You will be surprised of how much more expressive a wine can be when enjoyed at the
To conclude, remember that at the end, it is always up to you to decide the right temperature.
These are only guide lines that should help you in your journey of the world of wines, but the
taste test is ultimately the most important. Have fun with it and learn from it. If something is not
right there is an easy fix. If it is too hot, refrigerate it for a bit more. If it is too cold, let it sit in the
glass (or in the bottle) for a few more minutes. The next time you will know exactly what
temperature works best for you and your room.