Red Wine Serving Temperature: Learning the Variation Among Wines




Many people out there, that don’t know any better, usually assume that wine-no matter the color-is best served chilled. After all, most beverages we drink are generally stored in the refrigerator. While this may be more suitable for white (though not recommended-more on that later), it is definitely not the case for reds. The proper red wine serving temperature is actually closer to room temperature than the temperature in your fridge.

So what exactly is the proper red wine serving temperature? Well, the whole “room temperature” schtick is actually bit of a misnomer. Red wine was served at room temperature back in the days before the advent of central heating and cooling. The real proper red wine serving temperature is 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. This may have been room temperature years ago, but these days is closer to 70 degrees, unless you keep your house really cold.

So what are you supposed to do to keep your collection at the proper red wine serving temperature? Well, you have a couple of options. First, there is the classic wine cellar approach. If you live in a home with a basement, you’ve probably noticed that it stays much cooler down there than it does in the rest of the house. This is why in days of yore red wine was traditionally kept in the cellar-it’s the perfect red wine serving temperature!

Your other option for keeping your collection at the proper red wine serving temperature is to get yourself a wine cooler. Wine coolers are essentially small refrigerators specifically made to store wine. You can get them free-standing or made to fit under your counter in your kitchen. Wine coolers are great because many are compartmentalized, allowing you to store your reds at one temperature and your whites at another. You can even customize your temperatures even further for different types of reds and whites if you so choose.

Believe it or not, that’s not the end of the story when it comes to red wine serving temperature. There are many different types of reds, and there are serving temperature variations there as well. Full-bodies reds-such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon-should be stored at 55-63 degrees Fahrenheit. Lesser-bodied reds, such as Beaujolais, are best stored at 46-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Such lesser-bodied reds, therefore, are best stored with your roses and full-bodied white wines-such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier. While we’re on the subject, let’s mention that your less complex whites-such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Vinho Verdhe, and dessert wines-should be stored at 43-50 degrees Fahrenheit and your champagne and ice wines should be stored at 43-46 degrees Fahrenheit.

AS you can see there is a lot of variation with red wine serving temperature and with whites and roses as well. Slight variations won’t kill your wine, but the recommended temperatures are ideal. IF you are really particular about such things, look into a wine cooler. If not, do your best to keep your wines in whatever location in your house most closely matches the prescribed temperatures!

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