Cooler Than Being Cool? Temps for Serving Wine

Posted by Vicki on August 7, 2015

Wine should be served at the right temperature, and often fairly chilly. During the summer, and when the standard “room temperature” is fairly warm, most wines will need to be cooled before they are served.

But if you’ve ever added ice to a glass of wine you probably know that it does nothing to enhance the wine. If fact, it may well damage your enjoyment of it. While it cools the wine quickly, ice also dilutes it and changes its flavors and aromas.

Serving wine at the right temperature is the single biggest factor affecting your enjoyment of it. White wines served too warm, for example, will taste bland. Red wines served too cold will not be able to display their full aroma and taste potential, and served too warm will just lose their aromas and flavor. So getting it right is key.

Here is how to quickly chill wine without ruining it and a list of the right temperatures to serve wines to optimize your enjoyment.

Chilling Wine Safely

Use this method to chill a bottle of wine quickly, without adding ice to the glass. Use a container large enough to hold a wine bottle and some water. Fill about a third of it with ice and add water to fill it half way. Then add a handful of salt. Place the wine bottle in this mixture for 15 minutes and the wine will be chilled by about 20 degrees.

In contrast, if you are taking a wine bottle from the refrigerator to serve it, it takes about an hour sitting at room temperature for it to warm up to about 58 degrees.

The Right Temperatures

Wine needs to be served at cooler temperatures than you probably think. Below is a list of wines and the best temperatures for serving them.  I developed this list based on guidelines from one of my favorite wine experts, Hugh Johnson, in his fabulous Pocket Wine Book for 2015 (available on Amazon).

Here is the list of wine serving temperatures, from warmest to coolest:

Temp °F.                                Wines

61 – 65           High quality red wines, especially Bordeaux, red Burgundy (light Pinot Noir)

56 – 60           Chianti, Zinfandel, Côtes du Rhône, quality white Burgundy (crisp, light Chardonnay), Port, Madeira, standard everyday reds

52 – 55           Lighter reds such as Beaujolais, Barbera, Dolchetto; full-bodied white wines, Sherry

44 – 50           Champagne, rosés, most dry white wines, Fino sherry

37 – 45           Most sweet white wines, other sparkling wines

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