right red wine temperature

Sommelier Q and A: What’s the Right Red Wine Temperature?

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Why Does Serving Temperature Matter?

Temperature and Aroma

The serving temperature affects the aromatic qualities of the wine. Red, white, and sparkling wines express themselves in different ways at temperatures.

Think of your wine like a flower or a piece of fruit. As it ages and ripens the flavors and aromas deepen, intensity, and then die. 

On one hand,  if wine is too cold, you won’t smell anything at all. If it’s too warm, you lose fresh bright herbaceous, fruity, and vegetal notes that add to a wine’s complexity.

Unless you’re brewing a hot and spicy mulled wine, the right red wine temperature is lower than you may think.

The Science Behind Aroma and Temperature

Volatile aromatic compounds are released into the atmosphere when their protein binds break, which happens with temperature rises. This is why winemakers use controlled temperatures when crushing grapes.

Temperature and Acidity and Tannins

Acidity and tannins are major elements of the wine’s structure. As temperatures rise acidity and tannins become less perceivable and wines can feel flat.

Temperature Range for Red Wines

As a general guide, serve red wines between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit or 10-14 degrees Celsius.

This may seem cooler than you think! And you always thought red wine should be served at room temperature. That room is the wine cellar, and it’s a chilly 58 degrees Fahrenheit!

Remember  that wine warms up instantly in your hand and in a warm room.

When you allow wine to warm up slightly while drinking it, aromas reveal themselves over time, from fresh, young, and zingy to ripe and jammier.

You’ll also enjoy the sensation of softening tannins and the subtle evolution of the wine in general. This also goes for white wines, especially aged and complex ones like Chablis or Riesling.

Wine thermometers exist! Read our round-up and browse online.

How to Chill Wine Fast

When unexpected company shows up or you simply can’t wait to open that bottle, try these these time-tested methods for chilling wine.

Ice Bath With Salt

Submerge the bottle in a bowl or bucket of ice and salt. Why it works: Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water. You should have a perfectly chilled bottle of white wine in 20-25 minutes, and a red wine at ideal serving temperature in as little as 10!

Wine Pearls

Use a frozen grapes or wine chilling pearls. These work like whisky stones to cool down your wine without watering it down. Grapes can condense and start peeling after a while, so don’t leave them in for long.

The Wet Towel Method

Wrap the wine in a wet towel and place in the freezer. Why it works: In theory, the water evaporation contributes to a drop in temperature, just like perspiration. Unfortunately this only works in a empty deep, very dry freezer that isn’t cluttered with ice cream cartons and freezer burned leftovers you’ll never eat.

Chiller Rod

Use a chiller rod pourer device. These are super handy. Keep a few in the freezer at all times.  They can also aerate the wine in the process if need be.

Can You Put Ice in Wine?

The short answer is yes.

But should you?

That depends on what kind of wine experience you are looking for. When you open a special bottle, known for its aromas, flavor,  and finish it would be a pity to water it down and freeze out those sensory characteristics.

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