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The Optimal Serving Temperature for Your Favorite Wines

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Photo by Jenny Downing

The temperature at which you serve a wine can drastically change its aromas and flavors. This might seem like an overly geeky piece of wine minutia that you’d rather not pay attention to, but serving temperature can play a big role in how your wine performs in the glass, or how it “drinks,” as the pros say.

Generally speaking, cold temperatures will emphasize a wine’s tannins and acidity, while minimizing the wine’s aromas and fruit flavors. Warm temperatures, on the other hand, will play down a wine’s tannins and acidity while amping up the wine’s aromatics. Warm temperatures can also accentuate a wine’s alcohol content and make the wine appear “hotter” or higher in alcohol than it actually is.

Check out this quick guide on how to determine the optimal serving temperature for a wine depending on its style.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines including champagne, cava, prosecco or any other form of bubbly should be chilled and served at 45°F to 50°F. The warmer a sparkling wine gets, the sweeter and less crisp it will appear in the mouth.

White Wines

People tend to serve white wines too cold, which can hinder their aromas from being expressed fully. Whites should be chilled and served anywhere from 45°F to 60°F depending on the wine’s style. Lighter, un-oaked whites such as sauvignon blanc and riesling do well on the cooler side of the spectrum, while fuller-bodied, richer whites that tend to be aged in oak like chardonnay and viognier show well on the warmer side of the spectrum.

Rosés

Rosés are typically consumed in warm weather as an aperitif or as a refreshing accompaniment to lighter foods, and can be treated as white wines when it comes to serving temperature. Anywhere from 45°F to 55°F is perfect.

Red Wines

Just as people tend to serve white wines too cold, they also tend to serve red wines too warm, which can make them appear “cooked” or highly alcoholic. The common inclination is to serve all reds at room temperature, however a bit of a chill can benefit many red wines, particularly those that are lighter in style such as the gamay-based wines of Beaujolais, Loire Valley cabernet franc, frappato from Sicily, and of course pinot noir. Red wines should be served between anywhere from 55°F to 65°F.

Dessert Wines

Whether you’re drinking a sauternes, a port or a nutty Madeira, most sweet wines taste best when served chilled anywhere between 45 °F and 55 °F.

  • http://blog.justinchen.net/ Justin C

    What’s the best way to bring the wines to those temperatures? Few minutes in the fridge?

    • Etty

      Ideally if you have a wine fridge you can set the temperature based on the type of wine you’re storing and if not, then a regular fridge will work. Stick the reds in about a half hour before you want to drink them and with whites, store them in the fridge overnight and take them out to warm up about 20 to thirty minutes before you plan on drinking.

      • http://blog.justinchen.net/ Justin C

        Awesome – thanks!

  • Miriam

    I’ve been chilling all wrong. Thanks for the tips
    I’m sure everything will taste better.

Etty Lewensztain is the owner of Plonk Wine Merchants, an online shop focused on small-production, artisanal and altogether great cheap wine. The food- and wine- obsessed Los Angeles native cut her teeth in the wine biz running a marketing campaign to promote Chilean wine in the United States, and is certified by the esteemed Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the American Sommelier Association. Plonk Wine Merchants specializes in hidden gems from around the globe and every bottle in the store is priced below $30. Follow Plonk Wine Merchants on Twitter @ PlonkOnline.


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