Why Wine Serving Temperature Matters

Posted on 07-03-2017

Author: Lamar Engel

Date: 4/5/2015

Why Wine Serving Temperature Matters

It’s the night of your dinner party and you are making final touches to the place settings when it dawns on you that you might be missing something.

Cheeses are placed and ready to serve – Check!

Stemware is polished– Check!

 RSVP’s did go out yes – Check!

Wine chilled at the right temperature?

Ah – there it is!

It can be difficult when trying to remember everything you learned about this the last time you went to that special winery, or were watching the last episode of your favorite wine show on TV or the internet.

What temperature were each of the wines supposed to be served at?

Does it really matter?

It does matter! 

Especially if you are going for bragging rights on your wine dinner party.
Let’s look at four wine serving tips that you can help you.

Wine Serving Temperatures
  • Sparkling Wine / Champagne = Ice

This type of wine does extremely well holding up to the extreme cold, so chill this down with Ice and guess what – it actually tastes better ice cold.  If you have invested in that fancy ice bucket, now is the time to use it. Or if you didn’t think ahead like many of us, I find something fun that would look great on the counter, and line it with a plastic (waterproof) liner – *Hint: a tucked garbage bag works to line a nice wooden wine box or even fill a large bowl with crushed ice and set the bottles upright into that.

If you only have 30 minutes to an hour before the guests arrive, hurry and place the bottles into the freezer but remember to set an alarm or reminder to go get them upon guest arrival. You don’t want the wine bottles to crack or burst which they may if left in the cold box.  

Higher quality bubbles are in less need of ice and are able to be enjoyed with minimal icebox interaction.

Optimum Temperature: 30-50°F   or  5-10°C
  •  White Wine = Cold

Take your lighter white wines and place them in the very back of the refrigerator where it tends to be colder. So many times we think that the wine fits perfectly in the front door of the refrigerator when in all actuality that is one step closer to the room temperature. Think about the lightness and crispness of the white wine, and know that those whites can sustain cold really well. For the more oak driven whites place those near the front of the fridge.

Optimum Temperature: 45-55°F   or  8-12°C
  • Lighter Body Reds = Cool

Wines like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grenache  are typically more fruit forward in presence, and actually perform better at cellar temperature. Try placing the bottle in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving and watch the performance. Fruit essence will be top of palate with focused acidity.

Optimum Temperature: 53-63°F   or  12-18°C
  • Rich Full Body Reds = Slightly Cool

This does not mean ‘room temperature’ as everyone’s room temperature is completely different depending on where you live. To allow all reds to perform well in this type of a forum, it does not hurt to slightly cool down the reds. In this case, pour these wines at the table setting first, or decant the wine into a carafe to displace the temperature. Higher tannic wines need time to warm so thy are more pleasurable to the palate.  Lower quality wines require cooling, so place them in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes before serving. This will help the acidity balance nicer, and help the aromatics  refrain. 

Keeping it simple, just remember to chill whites and slightly cool reds. This should give you the best results when impressing family and friends.