You’ve spent a good chunk of change on a bottle of wine. You open it up for dinner and you can hardly taste any of the flavours promised on the back label. The wine was supposed to have flavours like fresh raspberries, plums and earl grey tea, but instead tastes like some kind of mixed fruit jam. What went wrong? Well, you’re probably serving your wine at the wrong temperature.
Does temperature really matter when serving wine?
Temperature Affects the Flavour of Wine
Instead of never buying that wine again, think about what temperature you are serving the wine at. In North America, we tend to drink our white wines too cold and our red wines too warm. Temperature is something that can absolutely affect the flavour and mouthfeel of the wine. Serving wine at the proper temperature is important when it comes to how you can distinguish the flavours.
We assume all red wine should be served at room temperature, but ‘room temperature’ is dependant on where you regularly set your thermostat.
What happens when red wine is too warm?
If red wine is served too warm, the flavours get all mixed together and it’s hard to distinguish one from another and it can taste much like liquid jam.
What happens when white wine is too cold?
It’s a similar situation with white wine. We think that it should always be served straight from the fridge, but for some white wines, that’s too cold. When a white wine is too cold, the flavours are dulled. What was supposed to taste like Meyer lemon, apricots and baked apples, now reminds you of apple juice from concentrate with a generous squeeze of lemon. Which we’re sure you could probably get at much cheaper price.
By paying attention to optimal serving temperatures, the flavours of different wines can really shine. The texture will also be as it should be in your mouth.
For example, a white wine that is served too cold tastes crisp and light when it’s supposed to have a little more softness and weight in your mouth. Not only will the flavour of the wine be more noticeable at the right temperature, but how the wine feels in your mouth will be much more pleasant and true to the style of wine.
Try chilling your reds: Don’t be afraid to cool light bodied red wines
Some would say there’s nothing better than a crisp white wine on a patio on a hot summer day. But what if you don’t really enjoy white wine as much as red? Drinking a big, robust red wine on a hot day can feel like your body has burst into flames after a glass or two. A great option is to take a Pinot Noir, Gamay or basic Valpolicella and throw it into a chiller for about 10-15 minutes. This cools the wine a bit, highlights the acidity and makes it a refreshing choice for a warm day.
Try warming up your whites: Don’t be afraid to increase the temperature on full bodied white wine
All of the great texture and weight of a full bodied white wine is lost when it’s served too cold. There are even white wines that red wine drinkers could fall in love with if they’re given a chance to shine. Viognier, for example, is heavier on the palate than most white wines, with lower acidity and a beautiful viscous texture. That mouthfeel is combined with flavours of stone fruit, mango, honeydew and tangerine. If you don’t serve that wine just slightly chilled, you’ll never get the full experience of a well-made Viognier.
What is the perfect temperature for red wine?
Red Wine Serving Temperature
Medium to full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah should be served between 15-18 degrees.
Light bodied red wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay are best served at 12-14 degrees.
What is the best temperature for white wine?
White Wine Serving Temperature
Full-bodied and oaked white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier have a perfect serving temperature of 10-14 degrees.
Light to medium bodied white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris should be served at 7-10 degrees.
What is the proper temperature for Champagne and Sparkling Wines?
Champagne & Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature
Champagne, Prosecco, Sparkling Wines and Sweet Wines should be well chilled and served at a temperature of 4-7 degrees.
JustWine Guide to Serving Temperatures for Wine
This wine temperature infographic is a great guideline to set you on the path of optimal serving temperatures. Of course, there will always be exceptions and there is no accounting for personal taste.
If you like to put ice cubes in your red wine, then go for it! It may not have been the winemaker’s intent to have a flavourful, full bodied Cab served watered down and ice cold, but if that’s what you prefer, then live your best life and do you!