30 Jul

Wine & Weather: Serving Wine in the summer!

Posted by Craig Categories: ,
wine and weather

For Pete’s sake put an ice cube in it! If you want it that way! No snobbery at this end!

I don’t have to tell you in these sweltering days of summer not to serve your Chardonnay at 95°F, unless you really want to. But I can give you some basic guidelines for suggested serving temperatures.

It’s warm out these days, so do not hesitate to chill down your wine more than usual. Hot days can remove the chill in your wine faster than usual when enjoying them outdoors. I firmly believe in learning about wine as much as possible to better learn how to enjoy it, but along the road to ‘wine wisdom’, consume it at a temperature that YOU enjoy. If you prefer your Chardonnay at cellar temperature (60°F-65°F), as do I, then so be it. Just remember the suggested serving temperatures are just that; suggestions or guidelines for bringing out the best characteristics of specific wines.

The Basics

For example, Sauvignon Blanc is all about the acidity, crispness and refreshing characteristics which are highlighted or brought out more when chilled. Lighter bodied reds such as Gamay and Pinot Noir, can have its fruity characteristics brought out by a slight chilling as well; but, if too cold it can taste a little insipid or acidic. If heavy reds are too warm then they become “hot”, where the alcohol becomes dominate and overwhelms the smell of the wine. Just remember with reds, room temperature is about 60°-65°F which is what room temperature was in European homes 200 years ago.

The last time I checked there was nothing carved in stone saying “thou shalt not imbibe thy wine unless at the suggested temperature”. So consume the wine you like at the temperature you enjoy.

Give this a try

Try this little experiment if you will. Taste the same wine side by side but at different serving temperatures. Pour one glass and leave it at outside temperature. Pour another glass after you’ve chilled the bottle and then pour another glass from the same bottle and put an ice cube in the wine. See which you prefer and I will wager that you will prefer one serving temperature over the others. As food, music, surrounding company and even mood affect how you enjoy wine, so does the serving temperature as well.

Suggested Wine Serving Temperatures

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 bring 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.

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