To chill, or not to chill, that is the question.
Well, not really (and apologies to Shakespeare). The question is more like “What’s the correct temperature to serve wine?” And the answer to that is there are no “correct” temperatures for serving reds or whites, rosés or sparkling, ports or dessert wines — there are only guidelines and personal preference. Whether you want to warm your reds and chill your whites, or chill your reds and warm your whites, it’s entirely up to you. But just in case you're still a little unsure, let’s look at the guidelines so you can better determine your personal preference.
Advice for Red Wines
Most red wines taste best when served between 62º and 65℉ degrees (about 16º to 18℃). Some people call this “room” temperature. That may have been the case a few hundred years ago in the days of ye olde castles. But today, room temperature, commonly between 68º to 75℉, would be a little too warm to drink red wine. Reds at this temperature can taste lifeless or have a heavy burning sensation from the alcohol. So if you store your red wines at today’s room temperature, then you may want to place the bottle in the refrigerator 10 to 20 minutes before serving. This is typically just enough time to give your red wines the chill that they need to bring out the full flavors and aromas. Lighter bodied reds, such as Beaujolais, even can be served slightly colder, say around 58º to 60℉ (14º to 15℃), but note that reds served too cold may taste bitter or seem astringent. The exception to the red wine temperature rule is port wines; these are best served chilled as you would white wines.
Advice for White Wines
Speaking of white wines (including rosé, sparkling, and dessert wines), these taste best at temperatures between 50º and 62℉ degrees (10º and 16℃) depending largely on the quality of the wine. Finer and heavier white wines can be served on the warmer side, whereas simpler, inexpensive and lighter whites are served colder. In general, white wines are less refreshing and will seem more boozy if served too warm. For this reason most people store their white wines in the refrigerator. But note that refrigerator temperatures are between 34º to 40℉ (1º to 4℃). You will definitely want to “warm” your refrigerated whites by leaving them at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. On the other hand, if you store your whites at room temperature, then you will want to chill them in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. The exception to the white wine rule is sweet dessert wines; these are best served cold regardless of their strength.
Advice for Storage
With all this talk about wine serving temperatures, it might be useful to understand how they compare to the temperatures at which wine is generally stored. We have already discussed that today’s normal “room” temperature (68º to 75℉) is warmer than the room temperature of yesteryear. In fact, wine cellar temperatures, typically ranging between 50º to 60℉ (10º to 15℃), are much closer to the temperatures of the drafty old castles. But temperature is only part of the equation. Ideally, you want to store your wines in a dark and damp location, similar to the conditions of a natural basement or, you guessed it, a drafty old castle. Storing wine in these cellar-like conditions also make it convenient to serve straight from storage. That is, most whites can be served and enjoyed simply by removing the cork; no additional chilling necessary. And red wines straight from the cellar will likely achieve the necessary “warming” they require during decanting (for more on decanting, see our upcoming blog post “Does Wine Really Need to Breathe?”).
A Cellar for Everyone
I’m guessing most of us don’t have a basement cellar or a drafty castle to store wine. And some of us actually will want a wine cooling and storage system with a little more sophistication than the refrigerator. In such cases, the Loft 400 Dual-Zone Wine Refrigeration System is sure to impress. The Loft 400 is beautifully designed to keep all of your wines, reds and whites, ready to serve at their optimal temperatures. And with a storage capacity of up to 46 of your favorite bottles, it can provide cellar conditions for a small collection or offer additional storage for those with extensive collections. The Loft 400 is loaded with features that will inspire you find the best temperatures for serving your wines.
Keeping it Cool… On-the-Go
If keeping and serving wine on-the-go is your concern, then look no further than the Sovaro Wine Cooler. These durable, high-performance coolers combine style and sophistication to keep your food and beverages delightfully chilled and ready to serve when you are away from home. Sovaro Wine Coolers use the finest mildew-resistant cork insulation fully encapsulated in a modern clear polycarbonate, making them 12x stronger than normal plastic coolers. Wine bottles fit upright inside the cooler, and a divider helps organize and separate the bottles from food. The one-touch latch and 4-layer rubber gasket provide an air-tight interior when the top is closed, and a drainage plug allows excess liquid to be easily drained. And if that’s not enough, luggage style wheels, a telescoping, extendable travel handle, and traditional side handles create effortless mobility. The Sovaro Wine Cooler keep your wines at the right temperature to ensure your on-the-go wine adventure doesn’t fall flat.
We now know that there are temperatures ideally suited for serving red wines and temperatures ideally suited for serving white wines. However, these temperatures are largely guidelines. The “correct” temperature for serving wine is simply the temperature at which the wine tastes best to you. We recommend that you experiment with your wines. Make use of the amazing products that are designed to help achieve the these ideal temperatures. Or experiment placing wines in the refrigerator to chill or on the counter to warm them up to achieve your wine’s “perfect” serving temperature. Just remember that if your wine is a little too bland or tasteless, it may need to warm up a bit. Or if the wine is a little too boozy or has a burn (again, that’s the alcohol), then you might want to chill it down. Happy experimenting!
Photo credit (Chilled bottle): Afonso Lima.