The Best Temperature to Serve Wine

wine served cold

There is a correct temperature to serve wine. While the general perception is that white wines should be served straight out of the fridge and reds at room temperature, there is more to it than that. If not served at the right temperature, a wine’s flavor can be muted or accentuated. Temperature can affect not only the taste of the wine, but its aroma and structure as well.

To achieve the ideal temperature there are a few general rules you can follow.

Reds

Everyone knows the rule of thumb that the ideal temperature for red wine is room temperature, but it is not the case with every red wine. This rule is outdated! In olden times, the rooms were cooler, unlike our modern homes. The room temperature is therefore not the standard, but generally red wines should be in the range of 60°F to 65°F. 

The light, fruity ones must be served slightly chilled. Your bottle of red wine should feel cool to the touch and if it is not so, do not hesitate to put it in an ice bucket. Fuller-bodied, tannic wines are at their best if served a little warmer. Keep them for half an hour or 45 minutes in your fridge before serving. Red wine if served too cold tastes flat and dull, but if it is too warm, it can taste too alcoholic; so somewhere between will be okay. 

Whites

To appreciate white wine, it needs to be served cold, at 40°F to 50°F usually. Once you buy the bottle, keep it in the fridge. If you plan to drink it at night and just got the bottle, let it cool in the fridge for a few hours. A special wine cooler can be perfect. You also have the option of putting it in the freezer for half an hour before you have it. The cool temperature lifts the delicate aromas and keeps the freshness alive. The fruitiness won’t be lost either. After having a glass, do not put it on ice, but put the bottle on the table. This is recommended because the wine will change its aroma and character once the temperature changes. 

Ports

One of the most famous Portuguese wines is the port, loved for its taste and several varieties. The correct temperature to serve this wine is at 60 to 65°F. However, there is a lot of variety in port wine and how to serve it will depend on the variety you choose. 

Tawny ports are served at room temperature, but taste better when served slightly cold. The recommended temperature is 14°-16°C (57.2°F to 60.8°F). This will subdue the tannins and chemical substances in the powerful wines to make them taste better. Usually the lighter the port, the cooler it is served. White ports are served cold, around 8-12°C (46.4°F to 53.6°F), but old whites must be served at room temperature. The aromatic light and fruity rose port can be served at 6°C (42.8°F) and for the intense red-colored Ruby port, the temperature must be between 16 to 18°C (60.8°F to 64.4°F). The precious vintage port is perfect at a temperature between 12 and 16°C (53.6°F to 60.8°F).

Dessert Wines

Dessert wines come after dinner, as an accompaniment to dessert. These can be any sweet wines, but going by the definition of the U.S. Alcohol Industry, it is a wine with more than 14% alcohol. These sweet and strong wines are served cold mostly. Red dessert wines will be at room temperature. Dessert wines ideal temperature falls between 50°F and 60°F. 

Tips on Temp

  • If the smell of the alcohol comes across as too strong, then you need to cool it down a bit.
  • If your wine doesn’t have any taste, consider warming it up. 
  • Avoid excessive chilling and warming. If a wine is too hot, the alcohol levels can feel out of balance and the wine becomes too flat without its natural freshness. Too cold and the aromas and flavors are  lost and the acidity is enhanced.
  • Do not serve wine of any kind over 20˚C (68˚F).
  • The numbers are to guide you, do not let them throw you off and trust your instincts.

How to Chill Wine Fast

  • Put the bottles in the cold spots of the fridge. Do not keep them in the fridge door if you open it frequently, but put them back on a shelf.
  • If guests are coming earlier than you anticipated and you need to chill the wine bottle fast, put it in the freezer.
  • Slip the bottle in a bucket, add ice, a bit of salt and water for quick results. Salt helps to lower down the freezing temperature of water.
  • Keep the bottle in a large container of ice. 
  • Wrap the bottle in a wet cloth and put it in the freezer.
  • Chilled metal wine stones can be used in the wine glass
  • A wine fridge is ideal for chilling bottles.

Final Word

To enjoy your bottle at its best, learn the art of serving wine like a professional, and get the temperature right. You now have a good idea of what the optimal temperature to serve a variety of wines. You’ll be enjoying the subtle tastes and aromas that much better when you raise your glass.