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Temperature of Wine For Maximum Flavor

I first wrote a post about the serving temperature of wine back in the summer of 2017. This is a subject where I am continually learning, so I wanted to update my advice for you. So, what triggered this decision to write a new post on this subject? First and foremost, I continue to see folks storing wine in their 36° refrigerator. Secondly, because of my own recent awakening drinking a bottle of skin-contact Fiano, a white wine from Italy.

Side Note: Skin Contact

This is a “rabbit hole” topic that I will save for another time. Suffice it to say that allowing the grape skins to remain in contact with the juice during fermentation is not the typical way to make white wine at this time in human history. There are exceptions (thus the rabbit hole), so for now, this is where I will leave it.

And now back to this particular Fiano.

I have only cursory experience with skin-contact wines made from white wine grapes. Without doing any research, I assumed that as white wine, it should be chilled like any other white wine. That was a big mistake that I learned as I drank through the bottle during a recent Zoom wine event.  When I poured my first glass at 45º, it was bitter tasting and lacked any desirable flavor. The most I could say was that it was “interesting.” As it warmed in my glass, I could tell that the bitterness was subsiding, and the fruit, spice, and other flavors were slowly coming forth. This wine was most flavorful at 65°, much like many red wines.

After the fact, I googled “at what temperature drink orange {skin-contact wine, Ramato) wine” and I found that there was a range.  An Italian wine importer suggested 46º- 60º. A wine magazine suggested 52º- 57º. And a plethora of blogs suggested a range from 46º- to 65º. (all Fahrenheit, of course).  This is a wide range. I might suggest starting at 53º as a mid-point to start.

Now I realize that most of you may not be drinking skin-contact white wines. However, It is safe to assume that you are drinking your red wines too warm and your whites and rosés too cold.

So what is the correct temperature?

Generally Speaking…

Most wines’ proper serving temperature 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. The ambient temperature of our homes is usually 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.

Serving Temperature: Whites and Rosés

I will 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, before 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 and Light-bodied White Wines – 38° to 45°
(Champagne and all other sparkling wines)
(Albariño, Gewürztraminer, Muscadet, Picpoul, Verdejo, Verdicchio, Vinho Verde, Assyrtiko

Medium-Bodied White Wines – 38° to 45°
(wines like Pinot Grigio or Chablis)

Aromatic White Wines, Full-Bodied White White and White Dessert Wines – 45º to 55º
(wines like Chardonnay, Viognier, Vermentino, Riesling, Semillion)
(Ice Wine, or Sauternes)

Rosé Wines – 45º to 55º

White and Rosé: What to do?

If you chill your white and rosé wines in your refrigerator (36º), then remove the bottle from the fridge for about 30-50 minutes (depending on your goal temperature) before you plan to serve.

If your bottle is at room temperature, then get out your ice bucket and make a solution of ice, water, and a couple of heaping tablespoons of salt. Saltwater freezes at 28º, so the wine should chill to the proper serving temperature in about 20 minutes.temperature

Depending on the season, the ideal house temperature for both comfort and efficiency is between 68º to 78º Fahrenheit. It is suggested that in the summer we keep our house at 78º and in the winter at 68º.  I am not sure about you, but my house stays at 72º in the summer and 75º in the winter. No matter which you most resemble, the temperature is still too warm to be the correct temperature for serving red wine.

Serving Temperature: 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.

If you have a wine cooler/fridge, then great. If not, you will want to store your wine in a cool, dark place.  Places to NOT keep your wine is on top of your refrigerator or near your oven or dishwasher (they are all sources of heat).  Also, remember that heat rises, so anywhere close to your ceiling is not a good idea, i.e., above your kitchen cabinets. Your wine should also not be kept in direct sunlight from a window.

And outside of w wine cooler, if the room is 78º, then your wine is 78º or hotter.

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

Light-bodied Reds – 55º to 60º
(wines like Gamay/Beaujolais or Pinot Noir)

Medium- and Full-bodied Reds – 60º to 68º
(wines like Merlot or Zinfandel)
(wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec)

temperatureRed: What to do?

If the bottle is in your wine cooler and is roughly 55 degrees, then place it on the counter about 30-60 minutes before serving to bring it up to temperature.

If it is still too cold once poured into your glass, then cup your hands around the bowl of the glass and allow your hands to warm the wine.

What if the bottle has been sitting out and is actually at room temperature? Then place it in your refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to cool it down.

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