If there is one thing pretty much everyone knows, regardless of whether they drink wine or not, it’s this: Red wine is served at room temperature and white wine is served chilled. Generally, this idea is true. Most reds are best when served at room temperature, and many whites benefit from chilling.
However, to really get the best out of wine, it’s important to know exactly what constitutes chilled, or “room temperature.” Additionally, like most rules, in some cases breaking them results in positive outcomes.
Why is temperature important?
Put simply, serving wine at the correct temperature is the best way to release the full aromatic and flavorful aspects of the drink. When wine is served too cold, the flavors and aromas are masked and the tannic and acidic qualities are heightened. This can result in the wine tasting bland and simplistic. Conversely, serving wine too warm will result in the wine tasting flat, lifeless, and overly alcoholic.
Sparking wine should almost always be served ice-cold. The correct temperature to serve Champagne and other sparkling wines is between 40°F and 50°F. Anything colder than 40°F will soften the flavors, while anything above 50°F will result in the wine feeling and tasting overly heavy.
In a wine-based emergency it’s acceptable to chill the sparkling wine in the freezer for about an hour before serving. Ideally, though, the wine should be refrigerated for at least four hours before serving.
White wine and Rose
White wines and rosé are best served chilled to a temperature of between 50°F and 60°F. Light white wines are best enjoyed at the cooler end of the spectrum, while sweeter whites with more body are better when served at slightly warmer temperatures.
Here’s were things can get complicated. Common wisdom dictates that red wine should be served at room temperature. The problem here is that room temperature varies based on your location. In actual fact, most reds should be served at between 60°F and 70°F. Serving reds at too warm a temperature will severely flatted the wine and highten the alcoholic tastes.
Finally, depending on your preference, certain reds actually benefit from being served chilled. Lighter reds like Pinot Noir, Nerello Mascalese, and Zinfandel are delicious when served at temperatures between 55°F and 60°F.