Everyone knows the rough facts of what temperature to serve wine at, don’t they? Red is for the cellar, white is for the fridge, right?
Kind of, yeah; but as always seems to be the case with wine, it gets a lot more complicated than that when you really try and do things right. This is basically because different types of reds are better at certain temperatures, as are different types of whites. There are still, however, some general principles you can follow to make it easier on yourself when it comes to actually pouring any out for guests (or yourself).
We’ll start with the reds. As you might have predicted, the rule generally goes that the richer and more full-bodied the red, the higher the temperature bracket it slots in to.
We generally recommend that red wines – like Chiantis, Bordeauxs and Riojas – be served at around 16° to 18°. This is because their heavy, bitter tannins and their higher alcohol content smooth themselves out at around this temperature; you get a rich, rounded mouthful without letting the alcohol dominate too much. It’s particularly full-bodied wines, for example the occasional variety of Merlot or Bordeaux, that are actually best served at the highest end of this small spectrum at around 18°.
When it comes to whites we recommend a temperature of somewhere between 6°-12°, but a similar principle applies; the more full-bodied the wine, the higher the recommended serving temperature. The most full-bodied whites – like, for example, a Chardonnay – should be served closer to the top of the spectrum at 12°, as this is the temperature that best compliments their complex flavours.
Likewise, the most light-bodied whites like Grüner Veltliner or a Bordeaux Blanc should be served at the lower end, to let their sweet or dry characters come out nice and crisp. Aside from these outliers most others – we’re thinking Pinot Griogio and Riseling – will generally fall in the mid-range, 8° to 10° category.
Sparkling wines and rosés should be served at around the 8° – 10° mark too. Bear in mind that this varies a little as well; because these are often seen as summer wines, some prefer to serve them a little more chilled and lower quality bottles or sparkling can sometimes benefit from a colder temperature to smooth over anything with too much bite.
These are very small changes in temperature, and it doesn’t sound like much. That’s why if you’re ordering wine, you’ll want it to be delivered at just the right temperature ;-).
A few degrees can really make a difference, and there’s nothing worse than not making the most out of a great bottle of wine.