Let the taste, smell, and quality come to life with the optimal drinking temperature.
If you’ve ever gulped down lukewarm coffee or hot water, then you’re aware that temperature impacts your enjoyment of drinks. And that includes wine, too.
Whether you buy your wine from a prestigious Temecula winery or just across the street from a liquor store, you want to drink it at its best. So to make sure you get the most out of your wine, zero in on the temperature.
If your wine is too cold, the flavors become muted and if it’s too hot, the taste of alcohol gets emphasized. However, there’s no overall rule of thumb you can use for all types of wine. White wine, for example, is best served at a much cooler temperature than a full-bodied red wine.
Is it easy to get the temperature right? It can be. Sadly, it’s also something that many wine drinkers overlook. The right temperature brings a good wine to life. With a little guidance, you’ll learn how to do just that.
The science behind it
As we mentioned earlier, there are just some drinks that taste delicious at the right temperature but are unsavory when the degrees are less than optimal. The same is true for food, too. Hot ice cream, cold lasagna, and a bowl of warm cereal are all good examples of good food gone bad. So why does this happen?
Well, scientists discovered that temperature influences the way our tongue perceives four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
Overall, when drinks and food are warmed, the perception of sweetness tends to intensify. Bitterness also becomes more prominent with heat. Beverages that are supposed to taste bitter, like coffee, tea, or cocoa, are usually consumed hot for that reason. But wine is a lot more fickle than coffee, tea, or cocoa.
In fact, a lot of wine drinkers dismiss the importance of temperature because they don’t realize how much it impacts the taste. But if you drink a wine above the recommended serving temperature, you’ll find that the wine’s alcohol is emphasized and it will taste flat and flabby. Likewise, if you serve it too cold, the taste is muted and you lose a lot of tantalizing aromas.
Therefore, to keep your wine in its ideal state, we’ve put together a recommended serving guide for all of your favorite wines.
Ideal drinking temperature
- 66°F Vintage Port
- 64°F Bordeaux, Shiraz
- 63°F Red Burgundy, Cabernet
- 61°F Rioja, Pinot Noir
- 59°F Chianti, Zinfandel
- 57°F Tawny/NV Port, Madeira
- 54°F Beaujolais, Rosé
- 52°F Viognier, Sauternes
- 48°F Chardonnay
- 47°F Riesling
- 45°F Champagne, Sparkling Wine
- 43°F Ice Wines
- 41°F Asti Spumanti
Why temperature matters
Light, dry white wines, rosés, sparkling wines:
To preserve their freshness and fruitiness, these wines should be consumed colder—between 40°F to 50°F—than the other wines listed below. Think about Champagne and Pinot Grigio, you want those to have a crisp taste so they need to be chilled. You also want sparkling wines to display fine bubbles, not frothy ones. Keeping light, dry white wines, rosés, and sparkling wines chilled (but not refrigerator cold) preserves their taste without nullifying their vibrant aromas.
Full-bodied white wines and light, fruity reds:
In the middle-range, you have full-bodied white wines and light, fruity reds. You don’t want these wines to be as chilled as the ones above. Serve between 50°F to 60°F to bring out the complexity of the different tastes and the intoxicating aromas of these types of wines. Served at the right temperature, full-bodied white wines and light, fruity reds are rich and refreshing. To obtain these temperatures, pop the bottle in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.
Full-bodied red wines and ports:
You want to serve full-bodied reds and ports between 60°F to 65°F. Many people serve these types of wines at room temperature, but oftentimes room temperature is higher than 65°F. You want to get the temperature right to de-emphasize bitter components and to make the tannins in powerful wines feel more supple.
How to cool it down
01 Salty bath
Chances are you’ve seen photos, movies, or restaurants display wine in a bucket of ice. That’s because it’s effective. Sticking a bottle of wine in a bucket of ice filled with water can chill rosé in about 15 minutes. If you need it chilled even quicker, add a few handfuls of salt. Salt drops the ice water below 32°F and cuts off 5 minutes of chill time. However, one common mistake that photos, movies, or even some restaurants make when using the ice bucket is that the top of the wine sticks out and therefore isn’t chilled. When you cool your wine down this way, make sure to submerge your bottle completely to avoid a warm first glass.
02 Time to kill
If you’re a planner and aren’t short on time, then put your reds and whites in the fridge. Leave them in there for a few hours and then take them out an hour or two before dinner. The time depends on the type of wine (ex: white wines should be colder so take them out an hour before drinking).
03 The arctic
An alternative to your fridge is your freezer, which can chill wine in about 30 minutes. This can be a little more risky, though. If you forget about your wine and leave it there overnight, you’ll wake up to an icy explosion and need to invest a good amount of time to clean it up. Therefore, if you go the freezer route, always set a timer. Even if you feel like you won’t forget, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
04 On the move
If you’re lugging wine around with you and want it to be drink-ready, then an insulated tote should do the trick. Totes can usually carry between 2-4 bottles and come with an ice pack or two that you just need to put in the freezer the night before. For single bottles, there are cooling sleeves that you leave in the freezer and slip on your bottle before you leave the house.
While you may be able to get away with a few degrees, you want the temperature to be as close to the optimal drinking temperature as possible. While it’s not that hard to cool wine down, it can be a challenge getting the temperature to match the recommended serving temperature. Because of that, we suggest using digital wine thermometer. These cost around $20 and are really easy to use. Wine thermometers take the guesswork out and help you get the most out of your wine each and every time.
For more tips and tricks, join our Temecula wine club! You’ll get updates every time a helpful blog goes up and you’ll receive wine discount opportunities.
Or if you want to go straight to the winemaker himself, join Flight Club. Flight Club members get exclusive access to VR videos where a winemaker walks you through the wine prep, gives you insider tips, and does the tastings with you.