Wine has a life of its own. It is volatile and reacts to light, temperature, and air. Serving wine the right way can bring the best taste and aroma out of a wine. There are several ways to accomplish this, including serving it at the optimal temperature.
Common wisdom suggests that red wines should be served at room temperature, and white wines chilled, but following this simple rule means that you’ll probably never get to enjoy your wine at its best. For instance, serving a chilled Chardonnay at 5 degrees Celsius instead of 11 – 12 degrees Celsius will rid the wine off its enchanting flavors and aromas, while serving red wines at room temperature – around 25 degrees Celsius – is a very common mistake.
So, what do the experts recommend?
A bottle of wine releases its richest bouquet of flavors at a specific temperature. This temperature is distinct for each wine, depending on the variety of grape and region produced. Here are some useful tips to help you get the best aromas from your wines:
• Refrigeration decreases a bottles temperature by 4 – 5 degrees every 30 minutes for the first 90 minutes. After that, the temperature drops by 2-3 degrees every 30 minutes. A freezer reduces the temperature by 6-8 degrees every 15 minutes, if you are in a rush.
• The optimum serving temperature for many red wines is 14 – 18° (57 – 65 °F), which is cooler than most homes, so refrigeration for about 0.5 - 1 hour should get them to the right temperature – unless it was stored somewhere cool.
• Medium to lighter bodies reds should be chilled to the lower temperature range 14 – 16 °C (57 – 61 °F).
• With normal refrigeration, Riesling and champagne (6°C/43°F) should be chilled for 4-5 hours, chardonnay (10°C/50°F) for 1-2 hours, Merlot (15°C/59°F) for 1 hour, and Cabernet (18°C/65°F) for 30 minutes or less.
• 2-3 hours refrigeration of whites is usually enough, since they should never be served under 5 °C.
• If you need to warm chilled wine, bring it from the wine cellar or fridge a few hours in advance.
• Serve smaller portions on warm summer days, and refill glasses more often to ensure that you take it at the best temperature.
• Using a table-side bucket filled with cold water and ice can help you chill the wine about 3 times faster than using cubes direct from your refrigerator. No wine expert will ever add a splash of cold soda or ice cubes to chill their wine, but if that is what you enjoy, it means that you will enjoy your wine. And this is what matters.
Lastly, using the right glasses can help to keep your wine at the right temperature after serving. Holding the stem will allow you to maintain the temperature of chilled wines, while cupping the bowl will help to warm very cold wine quickly.