We all know the basic idea of serving red wine at room temperature and white wine chilled. What does that really mean, though? There is a science to ensuring wine is served at the right temperature — too cold and the tannins will overpower the taste, but too warm and the wine will lose its essential flavor and the taste of alcohol will take over.
Do not be afraid to chill a red wine
When it is said to serve a full-bodied red at room temperature, what is actually meant is room temperature before the invention of central heating and air conditioning. The temperatures in those days were cooler than our temperatures today. To help reds reach their full potential, chill in the fridge for one hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
If you store your wine in a wine cellar, you will need to take that into account before chilling your red wine. You may actually need to set the wine out for 30 minutes to warm up, as the temperature of a cellar would be cooler than that of a living room bar.
As a general rule, red wines should be served between 60 and 70 degrees. Once the first glasses are poured, let the bottle sit on the table to warm.
White wines can be chilled for too long
White wine should never be served under 5 degrees, so two to three hours of chilling is plenty. Serving whites too cold makes them taste acidic and it will be impossible to pick up on anything else. Here's a helpful tip: instead of depositing the wine bottle in the fridge before work, so that it is cold when the day is over, put the wine in a bucket filled with ice and cold water as soon as you arrive at home. This will help the wine achieve its perfect temperature quickly.
Serving champagne at the right temperature keeps the bubbles from becoming too foamy. To achieve this, pop the bottle in the freezer for about an hour before popping the cork. (Make sure not to forget about it or there will be an explosion in the freezer.) Another helpful tip is that when you open the bottle and pour the first glass, return the bottle to ice until the entire bottle is finished.
White and rose wine should be served at a cold temperature, 60-60 degrees, while sparkling wine should be served even colder at 40-50 degrees.
How to know when a wine reaches its ideal temperature
There are tools for monitoring when wine bottles have reached an ideal temperature. Use a digital thermometer that can take the temperature of the wine through the bottle or one that can be stuck in the mouth of an open bottle. It is easy enough, though, to just touch the bottle and guess if it is ready or not. If the bottle is cool to the touch, it will be right for most wines. Knowing what "ready" feels like requires only a little trial and error.
Serving a favorite wine at the right temperature will make the experience even better. Knowing these basic temperature ranges and quick tips will help to ensure that every glass of wine is full of the right flavors and richness.