The Optimal Temperature for Serving Different Wines
Having a successful dinner party may depend on many factors. If the dinner party includes serving wine, then, for the most part, it depends on how you serve your wine and what you serve.
Many people make the mistake of pouring the wine at the wrong temperature. The only bigger mistake than that is to pour it into plastic cups, knocking down the wine’s decadent aromas and flavors.
So, don’t be that person and step up your game. To that end, here is our mini-guide on how to serve your wine at the optimal temperature.
Sparkling Wines (Sekt, Prosecco, Champagne, etc.)
Sparkling wines require chilling, and it is always best to keep them at temperatures ranging from 5° to 8°C. That way, you will be able to bring out all the acidity and citrus notes while maintaining the wine’s effervescence.
If it is a Vintage Champagne, it is recommended to be served somewhat warmer, from 7° to 10°C. At that temperature, you will be able to intensify both its biscuit and toast notes. Ideally, sparkling wine needs to be kept in the fridge for around two hours before serving.
Dry & Light Wines (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, etc.)
As a general rule, the lighter the wine, the colder it needs to be served. The serving temperature needs to range from 7° to 9°C. If you fail to serve it at a temperature within that range, you risk losing its freshness and acidity – especially in light wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, which can be very delicate to temperature.
In terms of the fridge time, it needs to be kept there for around 90 minutes before being served.
Unlike light whites, roses are best served at warmer temperatures. Ideally, roses are served on temperatures ranging from 9° to 12°C. That’s the only path to catching the wine’s mild tannins and mixed fruit flavors.
As far as time spent in the fridge is as same as light wines, 90 minutes will get the job done right.
Full-Bodied Whites (Viognier, Trebbiano, Chardonnay, etc.)
Complex whites are best served at temperatures ranging from 10° to 13°C. By doing so, you intensify their rich flavors, as well as their specific aromatic characteristics. If you have a less oaky white wine, then you might consider serving it at somewhat closer to 10°C, rather than to 13°C.
Then there are Viognier (well-oaked) and white Burgundy that need to be served at temperatures closer to 13°C.
Ideally, these types of wines need to spend around one hour in the fridge before being served to your guests.
Light to Medium Reds (Dolcetto, Beaujolais, Chianti, etc.)
These are wines featuring vibrant flavors and aromas that can only be highlighted if they are served at temperatures ranging from 13° to 16°C. Failing to serve them at those temperatures will make their fruit flavors acidic and taste like a tart.
These wines need to spend from 45 minutes to an hour before serving to the guests.
Full-bodied Red Wines (Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon)
It is a common myth that the big reds need to be served at temperatures around 21°C. The real, optimal serving temperature is somewhere between 15° and 19°C. Those temperatures will allow the wine to express its acidity, rounded tannins, and reflect its lush mouthfeel. On the other hand, if any of these wines are served at around 21°C, the alcohol will take over the flavor.
Generally speaking, most of these wines need to spend around 25 minutes in the fridge before being served.
Fortified Wines (Madeira, Port, etc.)
As mentioned earlier, wines that are light in style and color need to be served cooler. And by cooler, we mean serving them at temperatures ranging from 14° to 19°C.
For example, Sherries and Tawny Ports are best enjoyed at temperatures ranging from 14° to 16°C, while wines such as vintage Ports are best served at temperatures nearer to 19°C.
Madeiras are also much like the Vintage Ports, and they also need to be served at around 19°C. That’s the perfect temperature to capture their complex characteristics.
Their time in the fridge needs to be limited to around 45 minutes for lighter ones, while the bolder section needs just 20 minutes.
Take Into Consideration
When we speak of time in the fridge, we mean a starting temperature of around 22°C. If the wine is kept in a wine refrigerator or a cellar, chill both reds and whites for about half an hour. Whites are served immediately, while the reds need to sit for an additional half an hour before being served.
If the wines were resting on a rack, you need to fill a bucket with an equal amount of water and ice and place the bottle in it. Reds need to stay in the bucket for 30-60 minutes, while the whites need to stay for around 20 minutes before serving.