Whether you are enjoying a glass of wine alone at home or sharing your favorite vintage with guests, it’s important to serve the wine at the right temperature. The reason is because the temperature of the wine greatly impacts its taste, and you want to enjoy the wine at its fullest, right?
Unless you’re a sommelier, it can be easy to make mistakes with your wine storage, especially if you don’t know which types of wine should be chilled and which are best served when they aren’t. Just like Goldilocks’ porridge, you can easily wind up with wine that’s either too chilled or not chilled enough.
In this guide, you will learn the ideal serving temperature for your favorite types of wine, including white, red, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and dessert wines, so you can always enjoy your wine at its “just right” temperature.
White Wine Serving Temperature
White wine is usually stored and served chilled, but you have to be careful because if it is served too cold, then the temperature will mute its flavors and aromas. On the other side of the coin, if you serve white wine too warm its flavor tends to become flatten. When serving a bottle of white to your guests, you should keep it in an ice bucket between pours keep the wine chilled, but not too cold. Ideally, white wine is at its best when it is served between 45° F and 50° F, depending on the varietal.
Red Wine Serving Temperature
There’s a common misconception that red wine should be served at room temperature. While there is no optimal temperature for red wine, serving it at room temperature is never recommended. Generally, storing your bottles of red wine in a cool environment and serving them at a temperature range of 45° F to 65° F will help them taste their best. Lighter-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grenache should be served slightly cooler than fuller bodied reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec.
Chardonnay Serving Temperature
Chardonnay is one of the fuller flavored varieties of white wine. As a result, it does not need to be served as chilled as other lighter varieties. Chardonnay tastes its best when it is served between 50° F and 60° F degrees because the slightly warmer temperature brings out the wine’s rich textures. To get the perfect temperature before serving, put your room temperature bottle of Chardonnay in the refrigerator for no longer than 30 minutes. This will drop its temperature to approximately 50° F, the suggested serving temperature.
Cabernet Sauvignon Serving Temperature
Full-bodied red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec tend to be at their best when served between 60° F and 65° F. This should also be the same temperature range to aim for when serving other fortified red wines, such as Port, Marsala, and Madeira. Placing a room temperature bottle in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes should be all it takes for the wine to reach ideal serving temperature.
Serving Temperature for Dessert Wines
Dessert wines tend to have flavor profiles that range from semisweet to sweet, so to enjoy their crisp, sweet flavor to the fullest, these types of wines should be generally served on the colder side, between 45° F and 50° F. However, some sommeliers recommend serving higher quality dessert wines, like a fine Sauternes, at a considerably warmer 58 degrees.
Refrigerating your wine ahead of time is ideal to ensure you are serving it at the proper temperature, but what can you do if you’re short on time? Luckily, all is not lost. Keep some grapes in your freezer and use them as “ice cubes” to help cool off room temperature wine. Or, place the bottle in a salty ice bath to drop its temperature quickly on the fly. Most importantly, pay attention to your wine serving temperatures the next time you’re ready to share your favorite bottle with guests, so you can all enjoy the wine at its very best.