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Wine Service Temperatures: How to Ensure Your Wine Is at Its Best

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 at 11:26:19 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Though wine storage temperatures (53-57°F) are important, it’s just as important to take note of the temperature at which you enjoy your wine, its service temperature. Too often people drink white wines too cold and red wines too warm, limiting the wine’s capacity for enjoyment. A white that is too cold will be flavorless and a red that’s too warm is often quite flabby and alcoholic. You may be aware that reds are sipped at a warmer temperature than whites, but do you know exactly what temperature that is?

Wine Service Temperatures
Champagne, Sparkling, and Dessert Wine:
40° F
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio:
Chardonnay, Chablis:
Pinot Noir:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz:
64-66° F

Though both are stored at 53-57°, white wines should be chilled before drinking while red wines should be allowed to come up in temperature. Ideally, whites should be between refrigerator temperature (40°F) and storage temperature (55°F) and reds should be somewhere between storage and room temperature which is often as high as 70°F. This is all great information, but most people don’t enjoy taking their wine’s temperature. So how will you know that your wine is at proper temperature without going through all of the hassle?

If you already have a wine storage solution that keeps your collection at 53-57°F, pop your bottles of white wine into the refrigerator half an hour prior to service and take your reds out of storage half an hour prior to service. This allows time for your whites to chill and your reds to warm up. If you’ve yet to invest in a wine storage solution, and your wines are kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator (which can be as cold as 40°F), you’ll do the opposite. Put your reds in the refrigerator for half an hour and take your whites out of the refrigerator for half an hour. Dessert wines, sparkling wines, and roses are best enjoyed at a cooler temperature than whites, refrigerator temperature will do the trick.

As the experts on wine accessories, Wine Enthusiast offers a wide variety of serving tools to accomodate your wine service needs, like Wine Buckets & Chillers and Thermometers. How do you get your wines to proper service temperatures? Leave a comment, and let us know!

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3 Responses to “Wine Service Temperatures: How to Ensure Your Wine Is at Its Best”

  1. We have just written our past two Spit or Swallow newsletters on this same subject. Especially our consternation that bars never care and keep the reds they pour by the glass outside of any refrigeration.

    We have offered some suggestions, just like your article, but in order to start rocking the boat, I suggest that everyone who drinks more than an occasional glass of wine in public, invest $25 and purchase a VinTemp infrared thermometer. Now when that smart-alecky bartender says it is at room temp, I show them that the wine is sitting in my glass or in their bottle at 80 degrees and I doubt anyone would think that is drinkable.

    Keep the movement going – NO MORE WARM WINE………..djb, cio

  2. This has been a topic of interest to me for several months now. Years ago I realized I did not like the taste of even my favorite red wine in the summer months. That is when I began to challenge what “store at room temperature” really meant. I asked a friend of ours who was from France and now living in the US. He told me that red is meant to be served more at cellar temperature, that 80 degrees, which it can get to here in the south, was indeed too warm. So began my journey to figure out the best way to get my red wine at the right temperature. And recently I have discerned that within the variance of temperature a red can be served, I had a personal preference of it being towards the warmer end of the range (probably developed from years of drinking red too warm). So I have determined that I do not like my reds stored in the refrigerator, but will keep them in my wine closet or wine rack. My home stays at 68 – 76 degrees depending on the season. When I am ready to serve my red wine I put it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. I am currently experimenting with whether opening my bottle beforehand matters because I often don’t think ahead enough to give my wine the proper time to breathe. For white wines I do not store in the refrigerator either but let it chill for 30 minutes before serving. But I am not a wine collector and I do not keep my wines for months or years.

  3. [...] red wines (Chianti, Beaujolais, young pinot noir): 60-65 degreesHeavy red wines: 63-68 degreesThe Wine Enthusiast also provides some insight on this.So, what do you do if you don’t have your own [...]

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