Temperature is obviously a critical factor in growing good grapes, so it should come as no surprise that temperature is just as important when it comes to tasting the actual wine.
Wine coolers are set around 55ºF, and most refrigerators are around 40º. But serving wines too cold will stifle their flavors and aromas and can make tannins taste harsh. On the other hand, too warm and the wine will be overpowered by alcohol.
So what's the right temperature to enjoy your favorite wine? It depends on a number of factors, including your personal preference, but here are some general guidelines we can keep in mind:
- Sparkling wines get the coldest treatment around 45º
- Crisp, dry, bright white wines like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are best around 50º
- Rieslings might be best served a touch colder than 50º and dessert white wines a bit warmer so their sweet flavors will be accentuated.
- A richer white wine like Chardonnay is best between 55º-60º
- Lighter-bodied reds like Pinot Noir are best around 62º
- Bigger reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and and Syrah are better served a bit warmer in the 65º range.
- Fortified wines and dessert reds would be the only wines served warmer than this, but only by a a degree or two
- Never serve or store any wine over 68ºF
The old adage of "serve at room temperature" doesn't really make sense. Whose room are we talking about? If that saying originated in a medeival castle then we might have the perfect conditions. It's better to start with your favorite wine served a few degrees colder than its ideal temperature. Be patient. Engage in conversation. As the wine warms in the glass you can appreciate the aromas as they're released, and you'll see how the wine changes to determine precisely what temperature you can most enjoy it. That's really all that matters