It's Time to Chill Out
As a floor sommelier with years of restaurant service under my belt, I’ve often found it curious that most guests prefer their white wines served ice cold and their red wines served at room temperature or even warmer. But what is considered the proper service temperature for various styles of wine? I’m always respectful of individual preferences, but personally, I like to advise guests and clients to drink their white wines and red wines on the cool side. Why? Because by quaffing overly chilled white wines or tepid reds you’re missing out on the broad spectrum of subtle flavors that quality wines can offer. Cooler temperatures tend to underscore and delineate the various nuances of wine – acidity is brightened; alcohol is tempered; flavors and aromas are more vivid. Whereas warmer temperatures can muddle all the elements resulting in a one-note, blurry, flat wine.
Here are some general service temperature guidelines. Serve sparkling wines in the
42°-52° range (I like mine right at 50°). Light-bodied, aromatic whites like Riesling, Albariño and Muscadet show best at 44°-54°. Rich, full-bodied wines that have been oak-aged can be served slightly cool, too. Say 50°-58°. Yes, really. As for reds, follow roughly the same rule, but add a couple of degrees. Light-bodied reds like Gamay and Pinot Noir show well at 54°-59°. Try medium weight reds like Tempranillo and Sangiovese at 55°-60°. Go slightly higher in temperature with big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Aussie Shiraz, for example, at 60°-64°. Experiment for yourself and see what temperature gradations work for you. But remember: teeth shattering, ice cold Chablis? Bad! Cupping a glass of Bordeaux in your toasty 98.6° hands? Don’t do it!