What’s the best temperature for wine? Well, that all depends on one primary factor.
Specifically, what kind of wine are you talking about?
For general purposes, let’s divide wines into three categories – reds, whites, and sparkling wine.
Each is very distinct in multiple ways – including optimum temperatures in which they should be served.
Serving wine at a specific temperature affects its aroma and taste. It’s also important to store your wine in the best possible conditions and in the proper temperature zone too. These are important as it doesn’t take much to have a perfectly good bottle of wine spoil.
And that’s the last thing any wine fan wants.
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How do you keep wine at the right temperature?
All you can do is follow basic guidelines and hope for the best. You don’t know where the wine you’re purchasing has been, or the degree to which it was cared for before making its way to your wine cooler. Spoiled wine can look fine. So you never really know until you pop the cork and allow the bouquet and taste to penetrate your senses.
Caring for your wine once it’s in your possession is totally under your control. And it’s your responsibility to protect your bounty as best you can. A climate controlled wine cellar or top-drawer wine cooler are the best ways to preserve and protect as your wine ages.
Some wines aren’t made for aging and storing them in ideal conditions won’t do you an ounce of good. Ready to drink wines are already at their peak – so drink up.
But preparation is the key – as it is with many things in life.
If you want to enjoy the ultimate wine experience – you need a good quality wine, cooled to the appropriate temperature. When you serve wine at the optimum temperature you have the best odds of creating the right results.
Will you get to experience heaven on earth every time? Of course not. But following the basic criteria above gets you into the game. And only by playing the game, can you win.
It seems that the more we enjoy wine, the more we seek to have that magical experience. Even most moderate wine drinkers have had the experience of trying a new wine and having it blow them away.
That’s one of the things I enjoy most about the hobby.
With every visit to the store, I discover something new and worth trying. It’s always a bit of a gamble, but it’s this pursuit of perfection that keeps us wine enthusiasts in the hunt.
Collecting and drinking wine should be a fun experience. Find what you most like and enjoy it frequently. But be willing to expand your palate by trying different brands and vintages. When you discover a new when that satisfies the soul as much as the taste buds – that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
No matter what your personal preference, others have different tastes, as well as levels of appreciation. Before sharing that $200 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll want to be reasonably sure that your guests will appreciate such a treat.
For some, one bottle of wine tastes much like the next. So you wouldn’t want to waste your high-quality stash on those who can’t possibly appreciate it. Save it for the right time and you’ll get so much more value out of it. Besides, it is so much fun to share good wine with people you know appreciate it!
Now let’s look briefly at each of the three main categories of wine.
Sparkling wine is traditionally reserved for those special occasions in life – like engagement parties, weddings, graduations, business promotions, New year’s toasts, and the like. Or, if you’re my wife, Sunday.
And it should be served ice cold every time – irrespective of the time of year.
Sparkling wine is meant to be enjoyed right away and not saved for a later time. Once you pop them open, leave the open until the entire contents have been consumed.
To get your sparkling wine to just the right temperature, you can try placing your bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Alternatively, you can place it in the freezer for about an hour. But do not forget that it’s there – or you’ll have a massive and messy problem on your hands. I personally would never do this, but I know some people do and are fine with it.
You’re much safer using the refrigerator. But let’s face it – you don’t always have the time.
That’s another reason for having a multi-zone wine fridge for all your wines – including sparkling. If your specific wine cooler doesn’t have the perfect “sparkling” wine zone, add yours to the area set for white wine.
This way you can store multiple bottles and always have your favorite wine on hand ready to go for your complete enjoyment, at the perfect temperature.
It will be already prepped by being chilled. All you need to do is take it out of the wine fridge and then place it in your kitchen refrigerator, which typically runs at a considerably colder temperature to keep all the food fresh.
Remember. You want to your sparkling wine to be ice cold – so be sure to allow adequate time (usually at least one hour) in a cold refrigerator.
Another option is to place the bottle on the table in a bucket of ice. This works well – especially if the bottle came straight from your wine cooler. Let it sit on ice for 30 – 45 minutes before serving.
Ice-cold temperatures help to ensure that the bubbles are small and fine, rather than large and foamy. As with all wines, it’s these seemingly small differences in detail that have a profound impact on the taste experience.
After pouring the first round, be sure to place the bottle back into the ice bucket and leave it open. Sparkling wine is meant to be consumed at a single sitting. You can’t cap it save it for a rainy day.
Sip and savor. Then, have some more. Cheers!
White wine should be served cold. But ideally, they should never be served as cold as sparkling wine. If you are using the freezer method (I don’t recommend it, but we have to be practical and know that you may have last-minute cravings) – be sure not to leave it any longer than 20 minutes if you’re taking it straight from your wine fridge and 30 minutes if it’s been sitting on your counter.
Set the timer on your smartphone so you don’t get distracted and forget all about that delicious wine you placed in the freezer.
But, ideally, you’ll either use an ice bucket or your refrigerator to chill the bottle.
What you should end up with is a delicious glass that’s noticeably cold – but not ice cold.
After pouring the initial round of servings, leave your white wine on the table and let the bottle sweat. Resist any temptation to jam the cork back in, or to use one of those wine stoppers sold in kitchen gadget stores.
Leaving it one the table and open is ideal since you’ll want to enjoy the full bottle anyway. As you enjoy wine served this way, you’ll come to enjoy the subtle nuances that make a big difference in the entire wine experience.
You’ll notice that your wine’s character and aroma varies slightly as the temperature rises. It’s something that needs to be experienced to be appreciated.
If you’re a complete newbie when it comes to wine, you might not notice this – or the other subtle differences. But the more you indulge, enjoy, and savor each encounter, the more nuances you’ll pick up on and the greater your overall enjoyment as a wine drinker.
It is a fun game to try and notice things. Before you read the description on the bottle, try and distinguish flavors for yourself. Is that raspberry? Black cherry? A hint of oak? The more you train your palate, the better you will get at the game!
Red wine should be served just below room temperature for maximum aroma and flavor. Try your next bottle of red at 65 degrees and notice how its robust flavor comes to life.
The tasting game, to me anyway, is much more obvious in red wines. I find it easier to pick out the subtleties of flavor with reds.
No matter what your preference – sparkling, white, or red – be sure to leave any wine on the table to slowly warm throughout your meal. That’s how you’ll get to fully experience the character of each and every bottle.
So, what is the ideal temperature to serve wines anyway?
The best temperature range for white wine is between 49°F and 59°F – with 53° being ideal.
The best temperature range for red wines is between 62°F and 68°F – with 65° being perfect.
You may want to try adjusting up or down a degree of two. But if you’re close to these optimum temperatures, you’re going to enjoy your wine that much more.
The reason for wanting to serve your wine at the best possible temperature is that you will increase the odds of an enhanced experience. Serving at the right temperature helps to release aromatics in the glass – arousing your sense of smell – and it also provides the ultimate taste sensation.
If your wine gets too cold, you may miss out on part of the enjoyment. And if it’s too warm – it tends to taste too fruity – like a bowl full of berries.
Some people say they prefer the red wine cold. I did too when I first began exploring wine. I later found out that this preference was based on the quality – or lack thereof – in the wine I was drinking.
Cheap wine is best served cold. But the finer wines need to be fully experienced and savored. And that means serving them at the appropriate temperatures.