Serving wine

Best temperature to serve different wines

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What is the best temperature to serve different wines?

  • Full-bodied reds e.g. Bordeaux, Barossa Shiraz: 17-19°C
  • Lighter-bodied reds e.g. Pinot Noir : 14-16°C
  • Light, young and fruity reds e.g. Beaujolais : 12-14°C
  • Full-bodied whites e.g. Chardonnay : 12-13°C
  • Rosé, Semillon, Viognier, Sauternes : 10-12°C
  • Riesling, Verdelho, Vintage Champagnes : 8-10° C
  • Dessert wines: 7-8°C
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Non Vintage Champagnes, Ice Wines : 6-8°C

Normal refrigerator temperature is around 5°C and room temperature in Northern Europe is approximately 20°C. So if you serve wine at room temperature in most cases it will be too warm.

Red wine made using grapes like like Pinot Noir or Saint Laurent are particularly sensitive to temperature and serving the wine at too high a temperature will curtail aromas and limit complexity on the palate. In contrast, white wines are often served too cold straight from the fridge at 5°C . If in doubt, serve a wine a little too cold rather than too warm.

The temptation is to either drink a bottle of wine at the incorrect temperature or to over do things by trying to get it to the right temperature.  Cooling wine, particularly reds, is best achieved by gentle cooling for around 30 minutes in the refrigerator. More rapid cooling in a bucket of water and ice is also possible as is placing the wine in a freezer for 15 minutes or so.

If trying to warm a bottle which is too cold, there is a more significant risk of damaging the wine by trying to heat it rapidly using radiators, open fires or similar heat sources. Ideally the wine should be left to warm up in ambient temperatures for several hours.