How Chilled Should My Wine Be?
It’s the debate that has persisted since the dawn of wine: what is the optimal temperature to drink wine?Getting wine to an ideal temperature is an important part of bringing out the maximum potential a wine has to offer. Think of a fresh steak coming off the grill – you don’t want to eat it right away because you’ll burn your mouth, but you don’t want to wait too long when the meat gets cold and loses its juices. It is the same balance with wine – too warm will give it a sour, alcoholic taste while too cold gives it a flat, dull taste. Finding that happy medium is an important factor. A lot of people will tell you it is as simple as pulling it out of the fridge or the cellar…that is simply not the case. Both red wine and white wine have their ideal drinking temperatures and we are here to provide you with tips to reach that perfect temperature to bring out the most in that bottle.
It is a common misconception that red wine is best enjoyed at room temperature. There is a reason red wine is not stored in a very cool refrigerator but it is not because red wine should be drunk at room temperature. Wine needs access to a certain level of humidity to age well and that level of humidity is not reached when stored in a refrigerator. However, that does not mean you should not use a refrigerator when trying to reach the ideal drinking temperature for your wine. The ideal drinking temperature for red wine comes down to the body of the wine. The body of the wine is typically defined by its alcohol percentage: the higher the alcohol percentage, the fuller the body. Full-bodied wines are typically enjoyed at a higher temperature of 64-65 degrees Fahrenheit while light-bodied wines are enjoyed a little cooler at a temperature of 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you are drinking a full-bodied wine like Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, you only need to put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before it is ready for drinking. On the other hand, if you are drinking a lighter-bodied red like Elizabeth Pinot Noir, you should allow for 30-40 minutes to chill in the refrigerator before drinking.
With white wine, you are playing the opposite game from red wine. White wine typically is better enjoyed at a cooler temperature because it brings out the delicate, tropical notes. So rather than putting your wine in the refrigerator for a specific amount of time, you are pulling the wine out of the refrigerator for an allotted time. It is important to note that if you are using a kitchen refrigerator to store your white wine, make sure it is not too cold. Wine that is too cold can remove all the vibrant notes you would pick up on if it was served at a warmer temperature. Try to keep the refrigerator temperature above 45°F if you are storing wine in it. If we are assuming that the wine is 45°F when pulling it out of the refrigerator, the body of the wine will again signal how long to let it sit at room temperature before drinking. Fuller-bodied whites are best consumed between 50-60°F while lighter-bodied wines show best when they are between 45-50°F. So if you are drinking a full-bodied white like Sorelle Chardonnay, you might want to let it warm up a bit by letting it sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. For lighter-bodied whites like Pops Sparkling Wine or Sauvignon Blanc, it is probably ready to drink directly from the refrigerator.
With everything regarding wine, it all comes down to personal preference. There is not an exact temperature that a wine must be served at to be enjoyed. Similar to food pairings, this is just a trick to enhance your drinking experience. With reds, give it a quick chill before enjoying; with whites, let it warm up a tad before enjoying. The more you play around with this technique, the more you will discover your best personal method for getting your wine to just the right drinking temperature. As a final note, just remember to avoid the cardinal sin: don’t put ice in your wine!