Wine Serving Temperatures

Wine Serving Temperatures

The temperature at which a wine is served has a tremendous impact on its taste. A young or cheap wine's imperfections can be masked by serving it cool, whilst an older or more expensive wine deserves a warmer temperature to allow the wine's characteristics to shine through.

As a general rule, the cheaper, lighter or sweeter the wine, the cooler it should be. Inexpensive crisp, dry whites and dessert wines benefit from being served really cold, but if a fine white burgundy were chilled for the same amount of time, it would lose its subtle flavours. Cooling a wine tends to heighten its acidity, which is why it's a good idea to chill dessert wines down to around 6 - 11°C (43 - 53°F), to ensure that they don't taste too sickly sweet.

For champagne and other sparkling wines, chilling also has a practical function. It reduces the pressure in the bottle, making it safer to open, and also helps to preserve the bubbles.

General Guidelines for Cooling Wine

  • The refrigerator will reduce the temperature of a full bottle of wine approximately 2°C (3.5°F) every ten minutes. A bottle of wine will go from normal room temperature to drinking temperature in about an hour and a half to two hours.
  • The freezer will chill wine twice as quickly: 4°C (7°F) every ten minutes. It will take about 45 minutes to cool a bottle of wine down in the freezer.
  • The fastest way to chill wine is in a mixture of ice and water. For even faster results, salt should be added to the water.

General Guidelines for Warming Wine

If a wine is too cold, the best thing to do is to pour the wine and then cup the glass in your hands for a minute or two. Don't put the bottle next to a strong heat source like a radiator.

  • If you are taking a bottle of wine from your fridge, you can raise its temperature in a 20°C (68°F) room roughly 2°C (3.5°F) every ten minutes; more quickly if you pour it into a glass.
  • If you are in a very warm room, it will probably warm at twice that speed.