Wondering how cold your wine needs to be for your online wine tasting? Every wine has a sweet spot and at the ideal temperature it'll sing like the wine-maker wanted.
Let’s look at the why and how of serving wine at its optimal temperature.
Too cold… Were you ever served an ice cold white wine, only to notice that you can’t taste anything? Temperature influences aroma molecules a great deal. Too cold, and aromas and flavours appear muted, whilst the acidity will feel higher. This is actually a great tip for when you have a wine you’re not really enjoying – chill it and the flavours and aromas you don’t like will magically disappear!
Too warm… If wine is served too warm, the alcohol will overpower the more delicate aromas and the acidity (which makes wine great for pairing with food) will be less perceivable. Don’t be scared of slightly chilling reds – it’s the best thing you can do to them especially in really warm weather and all of our wine-makers suggest chilling them slightly.
How cold does my wine need to be?
How much you need to chill a white wine depends on the style of the wine: if it’s seen oak-aging, it’ll need to be warmer than wines aged in stainless steel.
- Light white wines such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Grigio or an Albariño are best served between 7 and 10 ̊C.This brings out the refreshing acidity of the wine – their main attribute – beautifully. Slightly bolder wines, such as a Verdejo, a Viognier or a Grüner Veltliner can be served slightly warmer. Wines with more structure, especially ones that have been oaked, should be served around 12 ̊C, to let their aromas shine through. How can you see if it’s had oak-aging? Take a look at the colour, if it appears yellow rather than white, it’ll most likely have been aged in wood, have lots of body and want to be a bit warmer than straight from the fridge
- Sparkling wines (of any sort, from Prosecco to Champagne) are best served between 6 and 10 ̊C – any warmer, and the bubbles can feel frothy and unpleasant on the palate. These are best kept in an ice bucket - fill 2/3 of ice, 1/3 water.
- Rosé wines should be treated like a fuller bodied white: serve chilled, but warm enough to enjoy the juicy fruity notes. As Kathleen Van den Burghe from Chateau de Minière says about her rosé "Don't keep rosé on ice - let it warm up a little to enjoy all the aromas"
- Red wines were traditionally served “at room temperature”, but that only applies if you live in a drafty Victorian house with fireplaces in every room. Nowadays our homes are heated way over the 18 ̊C that these wines really shine at. In fact, really light bodied reds with low tannins, such as Beaujolais, Lagrein or (unoaked) Pinot Noir will really appreciate being served around 14 ̊C. The more prominent the tannins, the higher the temperature needs to be. Tannins (the parts that make your gums feel rough) don’t like the cold and will feel harsher if the wine is too cool. Let the wine get too warm though and the alcohol will risk taking over the show. As a guide, if the room is over 24 degrees - you'll need to chill your wine some way this can be done by putting some cold water in a bucket with a handful of ice, the cool water will bring down the temperature just enough.
- Dessert wines…if you have a bottle of sweet dessert wine, whether it’s a Vin Santo, Sauternes, Passito, or Beerenauslese, do you chill it? Yes, please! Most sweet wines are at their best between 8-12 ̊C which means putting them in the fridge for several hours and then leaving them out for about an hour to warm up. By chilling the wine, the acidity feels higher which balances the sweetness of the wine. Serve too cold and you'll miss the vast fruity, nutty aroma spectrum that makes these types of wines so special!
Next step : see our tips on how to get wine cool fast.