04 Aug

Tip of the Month: To Chill or not to Chill? Suggested Wine Serving Temperatures

Posted by Craig Categories: , ,

. . .That is the Question.

With this wonderful summer weather we’ve had, I’ve been asked about wine serving temperature quite often by my readers. The quick and easy response is; “whatever temperature you like “. I don’t mean to be lazy (which is sometimes my nature), but keeping it simple (which is definitely my nature) is sometimes easier for me.  My wife loves our Australian Chardonnay ice cold and sometimes with a cube of “frozen water” in the glass, whereas I prefer the exact same wine very slightly chilled. Who’s right…. who’s wrong? Me of course, so I am told. Actually, the answer is neither of us are wrong or right. Life is way too short, so imbibe your favourite beverage in a manner which pleases you… and only you!

Having said that, there are reasons why serving temperatures are recommended for your wines.

Not unlike matching foods and wines, certain foods will bring out the best in wines while certain wines will enhance a meal. When serving your wine at particular temperatures, some wines will benefit from certain degrees, whereas a “wrong temperature” (I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek), can be detrimental to the wine and not allow you to enjoy the full benefit of what this wonderful beverage has to offer.

General rule for wine serving temperatures:

If served too cold the flavours are masked and can make the wine taste harsh. If the wine is too warm it can taste dull, flabby and ‘burn’ because the alcohol is dominant on the palate. Remember, room temperature for wine is not 72°F;  room temperature is based on the temperature of a castle in Scotland 200 years ago (60°F-65°F).

Listed below is a very basic and general reference chart for which wines should be served at which temperature and why. Please keep in mind that the climate of the season can play a role in this. For example, I tend to enjoy my white wines at a lower Fahrenheit in the hot summer months than I normally would on a crisp fall evening. Also, I do not consume alot of “Big” reds in the warm weather.

Here we go…

Wine Fahrenheit Celsius Why Example
My Fridge 35 °- 40° just for a reference point
My Wine cellar 65° 18° another reference point
Sparkling Wine 39°-45° 4°-7° Chilling activates the bubbles. Nothing is worse than warm Champagne and it will go flat very quickly. Champagne, Asti spumante.
Icewine/Eiswein 40°-45° 4°-7° Cooler temperatures activate the acidity in the wine to help balance the sweetness and brings out the fruitiness.
Rosé/Blushes 40°-45° 4°-7° Chilling enhances the fruitiness. Refreshing on hot days. White Zinfandel, Spanish Rosé, White Merlot.
Sweet White Wine 40°-45° 4°-7° Chilling makes them taste less sweet enhancing the bouquet. Gewürztraminer, Liebfraumilch, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling
Crisp/Lighter Whites 40°-45° 4°-7° Activates the acidity making them more ‘crisp’ and refreshing. Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Soave
Full Dry White Wine 45°-50° 7°-10° Refreshingly cool but not too cold so as to loose the nuances of the wine and mask the flavours. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon
Lighter/Fruitier Red Wine 50°-55° 10°-13° Cooling activates acidity bringing out the fruitiness of lighter reds. Beaujolais, Valpolicella, Pinot Noir
Medium-Bodied Red Wine 55°-60° 13°-16° Slight chill can temper the ‘hot’ or alcohol effect on the palate and bring out fruity nuances. Merlot, Chianti, Malbec
Full/Complex Red Wine 58°-65° 14°-18° If too cold, will taste thin and mask the subtle aromas. If too warm, alcohol dominates the palate. Cabernet, Shiraz, Amarone, Red Zinfandel
Port & Sherry 55°-65° 13°-19° Depending on the type, a slight chill tempers the alcohol and brings out the fruit in Ports.
Beer COLD Not too cold because they all tend to taste the same when frozen.

Image Credit: phantomgourmet

Share this post:

6 Comments on “ Tip of the Month: To Chill or not to Chill? Suggested Wine Serving Temperatures ”

  1. Anthony August 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    This is excellent Craig! Very useful.

  2. […] This is a simple guide to chilling your wines. For a more detailed take on this subject see my blog  To chill or not to chill […]

  3. Carly August 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    ~*~Yes you can store then in your new wine refrigerator but A wine ceallr or closet would be better for it, though, simply because of the long amount of time many people spend with the refrigerator door wide open, letting in large amounts of light, and, if you leave the door open long enough, heat. As long as you are not going to open if very often or for very long you will be fine.

  4. Bob B August 10, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Excellent info Craig. It’s not what you know that can make wine taste finer, it’s what you don’t know. Many thanks, Bob

  5. John Howe January 5, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Very much h agree with Bob, “It’s not what you know that can make wine taste finer, it’s [finding out] what you don’t know” that makes wine taste finer.

    I’d like to add “Also beware of what you ‘know’ that isn’t so.” As an old man I am constantly finding that many things I ‘Knew’/assumed are just not right.

    An Excellent reason to read an expert, like Craig’s, blogs!

  6. Craig January 25, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Well put john.


Leave a Reply