A wine’s serving temperature is probably the most important factor in your enjoyment. It won’t make a great wine out of an average one, but it will make the most of what you’ve got.
Serving reds at room temperature
The adage used to be – serve a red wine at room temperature. That was fine in the days before central heating, but now ‘room temperature’ is usually over 20ºC (68ºF) , which is just too high. Any red wine is just bland if it is too warm.
Serving dry whites straight from the fridge
A domestic fridge can get a bottle down to 5ºC (41ºF), if you leave it in there for long enough. At that temperature the wine will just numb the taste buds, and you won’t smell much either.
Serving sweet white wines
These should be served well-chilled, 8°C to 10°C, 46°F to 50°F, is a good guide. Lighter sweet wines can be served at even lower temperatures. Lower temperatures make sweet wines less cloying.
Serving sparkling wine
Freshness is important in a sparkling wine, so its temperature should be lower than a dry white. Serving straight from the fridge at a little over 5ºC (41ºF) is ideal.
The affect of ambient temperature
Once a wine has been poured, its temperature will quickly move to that of its surroundings.
- If it’s a warm day, then start the wine at a lower temperature.
- If the weather is cold, then serve the wine at the correct temperature – you can always warm it up in your hands.
The 20 minute rule
This is as simple a rule as you are likely to get. 20 minutes before a meal:-
- put the red wine into the fridge.
- take the white wine out.