A short guide to the supposedly 'right' temperatures to serve wine.
Temperature is possibly the most important factor to get right to appreciate any wine at its best. This is more important than glass shape, food, everything. If you don't get the temperature right, the lovely flavour that you paid for won't develop properly and the wine will be wasted. The whole thing is usually summarised as 'white cold, red room temperature', but there are exceptions to every rule. You are doing the wine, winemaker and YOU a favour serving wine at its right temperature. A good rule of thumb is to err on the colder side, as wine will warm up slightly in the glass, especially when held in the hand. Experience will also tell whether a wine is at the correct temperature, red wine served too warm tastes harsh and alcoholic, whereas white wine served too cold tastes lifeless and dull.
A quick word of warning: Ice Buckets are the tools of the Devil himself, many restaurants automatically plonk a bottle of white wine in one regardless of its style. Restaurants will use them to cover up the fact that the wine hasn't been stored properly, or is not of the best quality. This is a surefire way to ruin the taste of most white wines, they should only be used when serving non-Vintage Champagne or sweet white wines.
BUT...On the other hand it is fun to experiment with what temperature works best for particular vineyards and vintages, this guide is just that, a GUIDE, not RULES...
Temperatures in degrees Celcius
- 18º -> 16.5º - Best Red Wine, Bordeaux, Barolo etc. (Room Temperature)
- 17º -> 16º - Red Burgundy, Vintage Port
- 16.5º -> 14.5º - Other Red wines, for example: Chianti, Zinfandel, Côtes du Rhône,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Shiraz
- 15º -> 14º - Port, Maderia and Red Fortified Wines
- 14.5º -> 13.5º - Vin Ordinaire, and Vin du Pays
- 13.5º -> 11º - Lighter Red wine, e.g. Beaujolais
I am using various sources for this w/u including Hugh Johnson, www.cellarnotes.net, www.thefinerlife.com and www.intowine.com. Other critics may well have differing recommendations. YMMV considerably.
- 15º -> 14º - White Burgundy
- 11º - Sherry, White Port (Cellar Temperature)
- 10º -> 7º - Fino Sherry, Tokaji, Vintage Champagne, Rosés, Lambrusco, and other White
wines such as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, Riesling
- 7º -> 3º - Sweet White wines: Sauternes, Eiswein, Muscat
Sparkling Wine: Saumur, Asti Spumante, NV Champagne