Monday, December 20, 2004

Wine Serving Temperatures

This is old hat to most of you, but I think it bears repeating as I think the temperature that wine is served at makes a huge difference in the overall experience. Temperature and decanting are the two easiest ways to vastly improve the wines you serve. Too cold and the flavors and nuances are hidden, too warm and the alcohol takes over and masks the fruit. I think that, in general, the white wines are served too cold, and the red wines are served too warm. Try changing the temperatures to see if you notice an improvement. I am not going to suggest a chart of exact temperatures as the last thermometer I saw around here was used to, how should I say this, check a child's fever. Got it!

  • “Low-end” White Wines -- If you must serve them, serve it very cold in small glasses.
  • “Low-end” Red Wines -- If you serve them, don't expect me to stay long! There is nothing that is going to help this situation except for cold beer or good gin. I am not referring to inexpensive wines here, just the mass-produced, supermarket wines.
  • Sparkling Wines -- Start cold and then let stand on the table depending on how long it is going to take to finish off the bottle. I guess leaving on ice is fine too. It is traditional, after all.
  • Better White Wines -- Start it cold, and then let it sit out to let the flavors evolve. In the beginning, when it is cold, you can warm it up with your hands on the glass to get the right temperature.
  • Pink Wines (dry rose, not white zin) -- Same as whites but pull from 'fridge 30 minutes before serving.
  • Better Red Wines -- Technically, serving at room temperature means 60 to 65 degrees, not at 75 degrees, which is room temperature in the U.S. I don't think 15 to 30 minutes in the 'fridge is sacrilegious, and is often recommended for the lighter reds, like Pinot Noir. Again, you can warm them in the glass with your hands.
  • Dessert Wines -- Some are better cold, or cool, while others are traditionally served at room temperature, like the Ports. Experiment! I think they are best when they start cool, not cold, and then warm up.


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