When serving wine, it is vital that you find the right temperature. There are a number of rules that can be used. One of the first things you need to remember, however, is that white wine should not be too cold and red wines should not be too warm. The proper amount of chilling for each kind of wine will ultimately only improve the flavors within – so pay close attention for when you host your next dinner party.
When Things Go Wrong
The problem with general rules like “White is Cold” and “Red is Warm” is that there are far more nuances involved than those two simple statements. For example, white wine that becomes too warm will taste flabby and strong with alcohol while white wines that are too cold will be almost tasteless.
On the other hand, red wines that are too warm will have a vinegary flavor that results in strong alcohol and soft flavors. The opposite – with a red too cold – results in wine that is tannic and lacking in flavor.
Getting Your Temperatures Right
There are a number of different kinds of wine, and each of them will benefit from careful attention to temperature. Here are some tips for each type to ensure the optimum taste.
Sparkling Wines and Champagne – These wines should be completely chilled. Chill them an hour and a half before serving and then put them in an ice water bath 20 minutes before serving. If you are serving vintage or high quality bottles, warm it just a bit before serving to ensure you get the most out of the flavors.
- Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc – These three wines, along with other refreshing whites, should be served between 35 and 40 degrees. Some white wines, however, such as Fume Blanc, should be pulled 20 minutes early to warm just slightly.
- Chardonnay and White Burgandy – Richer white wines that are barrel fermented, or that are higher quality mixtures should be served at around 55 degrees, or cellar temperature. Chill the wine like normal, but pull it out 20 minutes before serving to get the temperature right.
- Red Wines – Almost all other red wines should be treated the same, and should be served at around 65 degrees. You’ll notice that this is not room temperature, but about 5-10 degrees below that. If you do not store your wine in a cellar or cabinet, put it into the fridge for 20 minutes before serving to optimize flavor.
- Dessert Wines – Treat the Dessert Wines the same as the refreshing white wines, unless you are serving fortified wines like Port or Sherry, which are better served at Cellar Temperature or even a bit warmer.
As you can see, there are dozens of different factors that go into how to properly chill wine. If you are serious about serving wine at the peak of its flavor, then you should rely on the above rules to dictate when and how they are chilled.