Often taken for granted, wine is too often served at modern room temperature. At best, many believe “keep the reds at room temperature, cool the whites in the fridge before serving”.

This misconception, while loosely based on fact, deprives the recipient of the true intended depth of flavour that the wine has to offer. Wine experts advise that white wines be served at 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, light reds at about 60 degrees and more complex reds at ‘room temperature’ or 65 to 70 degrees. [Remember, the phrase ‘room temperature’ predates the days of central heat and air conditioning, so it generally refers to the ‘cellar’ temperature of an earlier era.]

A bottle of wine will cool 2 °C (4 °F) for every ten minutes in the refrigerator, and will warm at about this same rate when removed from the refrigerator and left at room temperature—the temperature of the room will affect the speed with which the wine warms up. If you need to chill a bottle of wine in a hurry, 35 minutes in the freezer will do the trick.

Serving Temperatures
Wine Type °F °C
Sparkling Wine 42-54 6-10
Rosé Wine 48-54 9-12
White Wine 48-58 9-14
Sherry (Light) 48-58 9-14
Red Wine 57-68 13-20
Fortified Wine 57-68 13-20
Sherry (Dark) 57-68 13-20

Chilling helps preserve and highlight fresh, fruity flavors of varieties like Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Chardonnay, on the other hand, though white, is more complex, is fermented and aged in oak barrels and thus is usually served at the upper end of the ‘white’ scale.

Full-bodied Cabernets should be served in the 70 degree range. The warmer temperature allows the complexity of intense reds to come through as they are swirled, sipped and savored. Lighter reds like chambourcin or merlot are less complex, so are best appreciated just slightly chilled.

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