Summer’s Hot Topic: Correct Serving Temperatures for Wine

A perennial topic among wine drinkers is: “What’s the proper serving temperature for different types of wine?” As you are probably already aware, it really depends on the wine that you are enjoying. Sparkling wines call for much a colder temperature than hearty reds, and there’s a substantial range of temperatures in between those ends of the wine spectrum.

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular perceptions about serving temperatures for wine. We will explore the reasons behind the proper temperatures as well.

I’ve included a couple of handy charts (below) for you to use for serving wine at the most enjoyable temperature. Let’s have some fun!

The most important temperature factor in serving wine is to serve it at the temperature that you enjoy most. Some enthusiasts prefer all of their wines colder than some of their wine lovers. It’s okay! Just as in pairing foods and wine, whatever you like is the best way to go!

Most folks serve white wines a bit too cold and red wines too warm.

A bit of background on serving temperatures. The colder the wine, the less you will be able to enjoy the aromas and the flavor of that wine. There’s a reason producers of really cheap rotgut fortified wines (we won’t mention any brands) state right on the label to serve very cold! It’s so you really can’t smell or taste the wine! As the temperature rises we can smell and taste more of the bouquet and taste of the wine.

Sparkling wines are best enjoyed at lower temperatures, which slow the release of carbon dioxide, i.e. the bubbles. Sweeter wines usually taste better when they are chilled, except Ports which are fortified dessert wines.

Most folks serve white wines a bit too cold and red wines too warm. 45° to 55° is a good basic temperature for most white wines. A refrigerator will lower the temperature of a bottle approximately 4 degrees F every ten minutes, and it warms up at about the same rate at room temperature. It’s best to remove a fully chilled bottle of white wine from your fridge at least a half-hour before you want to drink it.

55° to 65° is the optimal range for most red wines. Especially in hot weather it’s a good idea to put your reds in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. If you’re serving the wine on your deck, patio porch or boat, and it’s 90° there’s no harm at all in plunging that bottle of red into an ice bucket half filled with water and half filled with ice for a few minutes!

The most important variable is to serve your wines at the temperature you enjoy.