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Serving Temperatures: Reds, Whites & Rosés

Serving Temperatures:

Too Hot – Too Cold – Just Right

No, this is not the story about The Three Bears but it could be if that children’s story was about wine.   Why? Because we, Americans, do not typically heed proper wine serving temperatures. Our reds are too warm and our whites and rosés are too cold. This post hopes to enlighten so that we all can serve and drink them  – just right.

Achieving Proper Serving Temperatures with Wine Storage.

It is best to store wine in a wine cooler set between 50-55 degrees.  If you buy wine as you drink it, leaving it on the counter is fine since it will be gone in a matter of days to weeks.  If you are keeping wine longer than 9 months to a year and you do not have a cooler, you should get one. Why? Because wine can be a finicky beast and will go bad. Wine stored above 70 degrees will cause the wine to age too fast. Wine stored at 80 degrees or above causes the wine to cook – sometimes in a matter of hours.  Side note: Do not leave wine in a hot car – ever!

If you do not have a wine cooler then store your wine in the coolest room in your house where the temperature does not fluctuate beyond 5 to ten degrees. I visited a friend who had wine sitting in front of her air conditioning vents in her kitchen and dining room. Not ideal, but I guess it worked at least for her. A basement will work if it is not too damp as you do not want the wine cork to get moldy.

Our system

Now I imagine that our storage system is more comprehensive than most in that we have three separate wine coolers. It happened by accident when our previous cooler died and we tried to get a replacement. We started with just two but quickly ran out of space. We got the third one made by Wine Enthusiast because it was on sale at Costco. Suffice it to say, it was cheaper for us to buy three smaller coolers than it was to buy one that held the number of bottles to which we were accustomed.

serving temperature

Two of our coolers are set at 55 degrees and the third is set at 50 degrees. The fifty-degree cooler holds the rosé wines and a few whites that we are drinking more frequently right now. This way it does not take as long to bring it up to drinking temperature.

Back To Those Bears

The proper serving temperature of wines ranges from roughly 40 degrees to 68 degrees depending on the style and type of wine.  Refrigerators are generally colder than 40.  I just checked mine and it is 37 degrees. Rooms are generally warmer than 68. I just took the temperature of a liquid that had been sitting at “room temperature” all day and it registered at 76 degrees. My point is we are drinking our white and rosé wines too cold and our reds too warm.

serving temperature

Serving Temperature: Whites and Rosés

I am going to guess that most of us will put a bottle of white or rosé wine in the refrigerator for at least several hours, if not longer, prior to consuming it. When you are ready to serve it up, you pull it from the fridge, immediately pop the cork and serve.  When you have done that did that first sip or three taste sour? Then you smelled the wine and got nothing – as if the glass were filled with water. If so, then more than likely that wine is too cold.

Here is a quick serving temperature guide to assist you when drinking white and rosé wines

Sparkling Wine – 40 degrees

Light White Wines – 40-45 degrees
(wines like Pinot Grigio or Chablis)

Full-Bodied White White – 45 degrees
(wines like Chardonnay, Viognier or Semillion)

Aromatic White Wines – 45 degrees
(wines like Reisling or Albariño)

Rosé Wines – 45 degrees


serving temerature

What to do?

Pull the bottle from the refrigerator about a half-hour before you want to serve it. If it gets too warm you can toss it back in the fridge for a few minutes or toss a chilling cube into your glass. Note about chilling cubes – I would store them in your fridge versus your freezer.

Serving Temperatures: Reds

Red wines have the opposite serving temperature issue as white wines. They tend to be served at actual room temperature which ends up being too warm.

So how do you know if a bottle of red wine is served too warm? It may burn your nose when you smell it and it also may smell medicinal.  If the wine has been exposed to heat for too long and maybe “cooked”. In this case, it may smell fine but will taste flat and perhaps be discolored.

The bottom line is that most people serve red wines too warm and you may be more enjoyment from your wines if you choose to serve them at the proper serving temperature.

Here is a quick serving temperatures guide to assist you when drinking red wine.

Light-bodied Reds – 60 degrees
(wines like Gamay/Beaujolais or Pinot Noir)

Medium-bodied Reds – 60-65 degrees
(wines like Merlot or Zinfandel)

Full-bodied Reds – 68 degrees
(wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec)

What to do?

If the bottle is in your wine cooler and is roughly 55 degrees then place it on the counter about 30-40 minutes before serving. Perhaps it is too cold. Then cup your hands around the bowl of the glass and allow your hands to warm the wine. If your wine has been sitting out and is actually room temperature then just place it in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes to put a slight chill on the bottle.

Of course, you can drink your wine at the temperature that you like. However, it is important to know the signs of a wine that is served either too cold or too hot so that you get maximum enjoyment out of this nectar of the gods. Or as Baby Bear would say, “Just Right.”


Well, that is all for now.



Thanks to Elizabeth Meyers for allowing me to use this image as my featured image.

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