Hints and tips

Temperature tells all: why wine serving temperature matters

Expert or not, you know when there is something a little off about your glass of wine. If the wine itself doesn’t seem to have any flaws, it’s most likely an incorrect temperature that’s taking away from what should be a perfectly peaceful moment between you and your glass. Here are some tips on serving temperatures of wine; don’t let a few degrees bring you down!

By Kaitlyn ROSS
2018/04/30, 03:54 PM

To chill or not to chill?

Although it may seem petty, the serving temperature of wine does matter. Wine expert, author, and teacher Karen McNeil serves two wines to her wine students on the first day of classes; she asks them to pick the one they favor and explain why. Almost everyone tends to choose glass B, which leads to a discussion over the differences between the two wines. Well, it turns out wines A and B are the same!

While water may be enjoyable both chilled and at room temperature, wine is different in that the temperature also influences how we taste this beloved beverage. The goal is to have a perfect balance between the wine’s aromas and flavours, alcohol, and acidity. For example, one of the reasons white wine is served chilled is to highlight the acidity—the refreshing quality of white wine that makes your mouth salivate after you sip. However, since colder temperatures weaken our taste buds, it’s possible that you may not be able to taste—or even smell—the wine at all. But don’t raise the temperature too much! At higher temperatures, the alcohol is highlighted in both white and red wine, which makes the wine feel hot.

Before we talk temperatures, here’s an important tip: serve the wine 1 degree cooler than the ideal serving temperature, so by the time you or your guests get to their glass, it will have risen to the perfect degree.

White, rosé & sparkling

Light and refreshing whites with a thirst-quenching acidity should typically be served around 8-10 degrees (think Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc), while fuller-bodied whites—perhaps even oaked—are best from 10-12 degrees (think Chardonnay, Viognier and whites from warmer climates).

The same rules go for rosé: cooler-climate rosés such as those from Loire and Beaujolais are best around 8-10 degrees, while warmer-climate rosés are best around 10-12 degrees.

Because of their extremely high acidity, Champagne and sparkling wines should be served very chilled at around 7 degrees (but slightly warmer if they are served with a meal) so that you may really enjoy the crisp and refreshing qualities.

Red wines

Red wines are slightly more difficult. When served too warm, they can taste hot due to the accentuated alcohol, but when served too cold, the aromas and flavours may be subdued. A common compromise with red wine is to serve it at room temperature, but in fact, this is not always the best solution.

The key word when it comes to red wine is chilled--not cold. Ideally, the wine should be around 15-18 degrees. As we don't expect you to have a thermometer handy at all times, here are a few tricks:

-For a red wine that has been in the fridge for awhile, take it out 10-15 minutes before serving.

-For a room-temperature wine, put it in the fridge for 45 minutes before serving. Don't have time? Put the bottle in a bucket of ice and water for 5-10 minutes.

An important exception is Beaujolais, an extremely fruity red wine made with the red grape, Gamay. This refreshing red should be served around 14-16 degrees to showcase its delicious fruitiness.

...Now, it's time to chill. Go pour yourself a glass!