Which Types of Wine Should Be Served Chilled or Cold?

The answer as to whether or not a wine needs to be chilled depends on the type of wine.  Across the board, all wines should be severed at a temperature lower than room temperature.  The wines which are served at the highest temperature, red wines, are still served in temperatures in the 60s, which is slightly below room temperature.

White wines are served cooler, with a temperature ranging from 45 to 55 degrees.  Finally, sparkling wines are served at around 40 to 50 degrees.  All wines should be served at colder than room temperature, although the specific ranges depends on the type of wine.

Red Wines

Red wines and fortified wines are served at the highest temperatures, relative to other wines.  Red wines are best served from 55 to 65 degrees.  When red wines are served too warm, they tend to taste bland.  In addition, the taste of the alcohol can overwhelm the wine at these higher temperatures.  On the other hand, when such wines are served too cold, they can be too acidic and tannic.

Full bodied red wines should be served at a higher temperature (60-65 degrees).  This includes wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot.  On the other hand, lighter bodied, younger, and more acidic red wines should be served at a lower temperature (50-55 degrees).  This includes wines such as Pinot Noir or Dolcetto.

Although serving a red wine at room temperature would not be the end of the world (and would be much more preferable than serving a white wine at room temperature), there is still great benefit in slightly chilling the drink before serving.

Roses

Roses are wines which include some coloring from the grape skins, but not enough to fully be considered a red wine.  They typically have a “pink” coloration and have taste characteristics that are in-between those of red wines and white wines.  Roses should be served at a temperature between that of white wines and red wines.  This means that they should typically be served at about 50 degrees.

White Wines

White wines should be served at a lower temperature, compared to red wines.  The ideal temperature ranges from 45 to 55 degrees.  This includes wines such as Chardonnay or Trebbiano.  When a white wine is served too warm, it can taste flat and uninspiring.

However, when such a wine is served too cold, it can mute the flavors and aromas of the wine.  A white wine served at very low temperatures (35-40 degrees) would lose almost all of the taste which makes it worth drinking in the first place.

Full bodied white wines are served at around 50-55 degrees.  Lighter white wines are served at around 45 to 50 degrees.  This includes wines such as Sauvingon Blanc, Riessling, and Pinot Grigio.  It is much more important to chill white wines in comparison to red wines, due to the lower ideal temperature at which white wines should be served.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines should be served at a lower temperature than non-sparkling wines, regardless of color.  This includes wines such as champagne and prosecco.  If a sparkling wine is served at a higher temperature, it will lose much of its carbonation.  In addition, excessively warm temperatures will have detrimental effects on the taste of the wine.

Because, of this sparkling wines should be served at 40 to 50 degrees.  In fact, sparkling wines are often served from ice buckets to make sure they are cold when they are consumed.  It is not uncommon to see servers bring sparkling wines to the table still inside of an ice bucket.  That being said, sparkling wines should never be placed in the freezer because of the risk of the bottle exploding due to water expanding during the freezing process.

How to Chill Wine

There are several methods to chilling wine.  The most expensive but most effective method is to build a special room with an ambient temperature which matches the desired temperature of the wine.  This could include a wine cave, basement wine cellar, or other similar structure.  Although these arrangements can keep large quantities of wine kept at ideal temperatures with no external power source, they can often be a very pricy option for people who do not have a basement area already ready to go.

Another option is to buy a wine-specific refrigerator.  These refrigerators often have different sections which are at slightly different temperatures, which allows you to store multiple different types of wines each at their own ideal temperature.  Although these wine refrigerators do cost money, they can be affordable for many wine enthusiasts.

The next option would be to store wines in a normal refrigerator.  Normal refrigerators are not the ideal environment, because they tend to be too dry and can infuse wine with the aromas of food in the fridge.  The dryness can cause the cork to shrink, exposing the wine to oxidation and the aromas of the food in the refrigerator. In addition, normal refrigerators are typically kept at lower temperatures (in the 40s) than even most white wines should be served at.

Quickly Cooling and Warming Wine

However, one cheap option would be to store wine at room temperature and then briefly refrigerate it for a short amount of time before serving.   This can be two hours for sparkling wines, one hour or so for white wines, and about 20 to 45 minutes for red wine.  The wine can then be allowed to warm up to its ideal serving temperature.  For sparkling wines, putting the wine in an ice bucket immediately before and between servings is very common.

Specialized wine thermometers exist, which can allow people to monitor the temperature of the wine and ensure it is at an ideal temperature.  If a wine is slightly off its ideal temperature, there are a few ways to quickly change the temperature to its ideal range.  If a wine is too warm, putting it in icy water for a few minutes can help cool down the wine.

On the other hand, if a wine is too cold, putting it in a bucket of warm water (not hot water) will help quickly warm it. One option which should NOT be considered is putting wine in a freezer.  There is a danger that the wine bottle could burst as the water inside the wine expands.  Even if the bottle does not explode, the cork could possible pop out, causing the wine to be exposed to the air inside of the freezer.

Conclusion

All wines should be served at below room temperature.  The reason for this is because of the negative effects an excessively high or lower temperature has on the overall flavor of the wine.  Red wines should be best served at 55 to 65 degrees, with full bodied red wines best served at a slightly higher temperature than lighter bodied and more acidic wines. Red wines taste bland when they are too warm and can be too tannic and acidic when served too cold.

White wines should be best served at 45 to 55 degrees.  Full bodied white wines should be served slightly warmer than lighter white wines.  White wines which are too warm can taste flat, while white wines served too cold can have muted flavors.  Finally, sparkling wines should be served between 40 and 50 degrees, to maintain carbonation and taste.

There are various methods of keeping wines at a cooler temperature for serving.  As long as they allow for serving the wine at the proper temperature, most of these methods of cooling wine are acceptable.