What's the ideal temperature for my wine?
One question we're often asked during our online wine tastings is "how cold should my wine be?". Now, every wine has a sweet spot, temperature-wise, and getting to it will help you experience the wine just like the winemaker intended - which is just perfect if you're having dinner with him or her at the same time.
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.
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.
Rosé wines should be treated like a fuller bodied white: serve chilled, but still warm enough to enjoy their juicy fruity notes.
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.
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. The acidity is brought to the fore by chilling the wine, which nicely balances out the sweetness of the wine. If it's too cold though 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.