I’ve never had frozen wine, but I’ve definitely left a rosé in the freezer too long when speed-chilling it. Come to think of it, a Riesling slushy doesn’t sound half bad.

As you may have guessed, this post is about serving temperatures. People can be quite particular about the temperature of the wine in their glass. Different wine books, websites and organizations will all offer advice on this topic and exceptions seem to be the rule.

Rather than list multiple wine styles along with their serving temperatures, I thought I would share a few tips with you instead.

1. Serve complex or mature wines relatively warm (60-65°F). At higher temperatures, the flavor compounds – things you can smell – will evaporate from the surface of the wine. So, in order to maximize the aromas in the wine, you’d want to serve it a little warmer.

2. The opposite of point #1 also holds true – the lower the temperature, the fewer volatiles will evaporate. If someone brings a crappy bottle of wine to your house, chill it. Well.

3. Sweet wines are best served chilled. At higher temperatures, our palates are more sensitive to sweetness and if the wine doesn’t have enough acidity, it could come across as very cloying.

4. If you have a tannic or bitter wine, like an Italian red, consider serving it relatively warm (59-64°F). At lower temperatures, tannins and bitterness stand out.

5. If you’d like the wine to come across as more refreshing, serve it colder. Pretty straightforward. Think beer and baseball.

6. It’s best to serve anything sparkling quite cool. At higher temperatures, more gas will be released and the carbon dioxide can become unpleasantly frothy. Besides, what’s prettier than a bottle of Champagne on ice?

If you’re nerdy and would like to see an exhaustive list of “proper” serving temperatures, go to page 5 of this document.

Some of you may have been advised to serve red wines at room temperature. This can be problematic because there’s no set definition for it – is it 68°F? 72°F? It’s a European concept that came about before central heating existed. Americans tend to keep their rooms warmer than the rest of the world, too.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is how pleasing the wine is to you. If you like your reds at 80°F, don’t let me be the one to stop you. Your tastes may also change with the seasons. Ain’t no shame in putting a slight chill on a red wine for a summertime picnic.

If you need to warm up your wine, be patient and let it sit out for a few hours. There’s no good way to warm it up artificially. If you need to chill your wine, stick it in a fridge for 2 or 3 hours or put it in a bucket with ice and water for about 20 minutes. The water will speed up the process and also make it easier for you to return the bottle to the chilling vessel.

If you go the aforementioned freezer route, just don’t forget the bottle’s in there.


Filed under Lessons, Wine

2 responses to “Wine-sicles

  1. These tips were great and much appreciated!

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