How To Get the Perfect Wine Temperature for Your Favorite Bottle
Consider how your coffee tastes when it’s no longer hot. Or how your soft drink tastes after all of the ice has melted in it. Like other beverages, wine tastes better when it is served and consumed at the appropriate temperature.
Fortunately, you can control your wine temperature and improve your wine-drinking experience. Some wine bottles need to be chilled, whereas others have to be warmed or served at room temperature.
Desirable Wine Temperatures
The ideal wine temperature depends on the color and type of wine, and these differences are often subtle. For example, red wines should be cooler than room temperature, while white wines should be warmer than typical refrigerator temperatures.
As a general rule, it’s best to serve specific wines at these temperatures:
- Light-bodied white wines and sparkling wines at ice-cold between 38–45°F and 3-7°C
- Full-bodied white wines at refrigerator cold between 44–55°F and 7-12°C
- Bold red wines at moderately cool between 60–68°F and 15-20°C
- All other red wines at cool between 55–60°F and 12-15°C
To determine if you need to adjust the wine temperature, you can use a few hacks. If you sip your wine and don’t notice the flavor, then consider warming your wine, especially if it’s a red wine you keep refrigerated. However, if the alcohol tastes a bit strong, then it could benefit from being cooled.
Lower quality wines are best served at cooler temperatures, as the chilled temperature prevents wine drinkers from noticing any flaws in the wine. When wines are chilled, they do not release as much aroma as warmer wines. Of course, all sparkling wines taste great when chilled, and you should serve high quality champagnes at refrigerator or cool temperatures. Chilling helps to elevate the delicate flavors, especially for lighter sparkling wines.
Why Temperatures Matter
Wine is a finicky beverage that needs to be served at a just-right temperature. If the white wine temperature is too high, the alcohol content overpowers the desired sweetness. Conversely, when a red wine’s temperature is too low, the cool temperatures negate the aromas. This is because red wine tannins need warmth. Without it, they become overpowering.
How to Get the Perfect Temperature
Part of the problem with ideal wine temperatures comes from the way we store our wines. We often misunderstand the perfect temperatures, so white wines are often too cold and red wines too warm. Serving wines right from the refrigerator or at room temperature does not necessarily do the beverage justice.
If you want your wine to taste its best, you must store your wine correctly. You also need to prepare the wine before you uncork it. To make the most of a good bottle, it’s wise to store all wine at cellar temperature, which is 55° F or 13° C. When you plan to drink a bottle, remove it from the cellar and either chill it or warm it.
Before you serve your wine, use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature. Some thermometers measure the wine through the open bottle, while others gauge the wine temperature through the bottle. If you drink enough wine at the correct temperature, eventually, you’ll be able to judge the temperature without a thermometer.
If your white wine temperature is too warm, chill the bottle in an ice bucket with ice and cold water. This technique works faster than a refrigerator because the glass bottle touches the ice and chilly water. You can also put the bottle in the freezer, but not for too long as wine freezes.
If your red wine temperature is too cold, you can use an ice bucket filled with hot water and no ice. The hot water will change the temperature. You can also pour wine directly into glasses and cup the glass in your hands to warm up the smaller amounts.
Always remember that once you pour the wine, the temperature will shift. All wines will shift toward room temperature, so consume them before they reach an unpleasant temperature. You can avoid a notable temperature change by keeping each pour small, around five ounces or less.
How to Store Your Wine to Achieve the Ideal Temperature
Wine does not like extreme temperature changes, so once you put it in storage, keep it there to maintain a consistent temperature. Even if you cannot keep your wine consistently 55° F, try to keep it within 10° over or under 55° as a baseline. Humidity can also affect your wine, but keeping it at 50% humidity or higher helps.
Store your wine in a dark location, away from direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light penetrates the glass and changes the way wine tastes, so keep your wine away from windows or fluorescent bulbs. Household bulbs, like incandescents, can fade wine bottle labels but probably won’t change the flavor of your wine.
If you drink wine with corked bottles, store them on their sides to keep the corks from drying if possible. No matter how you store your wines, do your best to keep them still. Vibrations can change the way the sediment acts in the bottles. For example, if you shake up your champagne, you can affect the flavor as well as carbonation. To ensure you have the best taste possible, wines need to be steady until you pour them.
Where You Store Your Wine Matters
Ideally, to be certain that you get the most out of each bottle, store your wine in a cool and humid basement. Do not store bottles in your laundry room, kitchen, or attic, where temperatures and humidity can fluctuate. Instead, store the bottles in a dark space away from windows. If you have a closet in your basement, try using that.
Otherwise, you can store your wine in a portable wine cooler that keeps bottles at the perfect temperature and humidity. This is a great solution for those of us who don’t have access to a basement or cellar.
Be aware that you might be tempted to buy more wine once you have a set storage location for your wine bottles. Aficionados recommend creating a storage area with enough space for double the number of bottles you already have.