It is quite normal for the majority of people to serve their wine without really thinking about the temperature of it. The red is served straight from the shelf or storage area at room temperature, and the white is served completely cold straight from the fridge. However, just as you wouldn’t enjoy a lukewarm cup of tea compared to a hot one, it is a lot more enjoyable to drink wine at the optimum temperature. While it is true that red wine should be served at a warmer temperature than white wine, there isn’t really any truth to the notion of serving it at ‘room temperature’. And although white wine is delicious when it is chilled, it shouldn’t be consumed too cold.
Why does temperature matter?
The serving temperature can literally change the scent and the taste of a wine. It can enhance the flavour or it can make it unpleasant. That is why serving temperature is so important. Wine has many different layers of aroma and taste. As wine changes temperature, it will slowly release the different layers and when you reach the optimum drinking temperature, you will experience all of the notes in a wine, even the really delicate ones. However, if you serve a red wine that is too warm you will likely be overwhelmed by a strong taste of alcohol. And if you drink a white wine when it is too cold, it will be quite tart. The colder the wine, the more the acids and tannins are accentuated. Tannins are good but not when they are too dominant and throw the wine out of balance.
A glass of wine that is too cold will also lose most of its aroma. The wine becomes flat and dull, and doesn’t really smell of anything much. If you are unsure how to serve it, aim to be on the cold side. Sniff the wine and if you can’t really smell anything then give it a while to warm up and try again. Once you can detect the different aromas in the glass it is ready to drink. Red wine that is really warm is not pleasant to taste. Even worse, if it is exposed to too much heat and for too long it will actually damage the wine completely. Be careful that any wine is not stored near sources of heat such as fridges, stoves or areas of direct sunlight or there will be no saving the wine.
The Optimum Drinking Temperature
Every wine has an optimum drinking temperature. That is the temperature that a wine will taste at its absolute best. Super cold for white and overly warm for red means the wine will not be reaching its full potential. The myth behind room temperature for red wine came from Europe where, centuries ago, the wine was served in large, stone dining halls. It was long before electrical heating was invented, so the red wine was never exposed to high temperatures. In fact, it was often served around the 15 to 18°C mark, which is perfect for red wine. These days, with a warmer climate in Australia plus indoor heating, room temperatures can get as high as 25°C on average, and sometimes even higher. Because of this, the taste of red wine can become compromised. In Australia, it is recommended that you cool your bottle of red wine down to a similar temperature that they enjoyed in the medieval times. A bottle of white wine should not be stored in the fridge long-term or it will get too cold. Instead, only place the wine in the fridge a couple of hours before you intend to open it. The bottle will be cold to the touch when it is ready. If you have kept it in there for longer, take the bottle out at least half an hour before serving so that it has a chance to warm up slightly.
Getting the drinking temperature just right
For red wine, put the bottle in the fridge for 15-45 minutes before serving. For white wine, put it in for a couple of hours. The red wine bottle should feel cool to the touch and the white wine bottle should feel cold. If you are unsure and would like to work out the exact right drinking temperature for your favourite wine, why not try experimenting with it? Put the bottle in the fridge for an hour and then take it out. Pour yourself a small glass and taste it. Continue to pour a small glass every 15 minutes or half hour and taste it. Take notice of the difference in aroma as well as taste as the wine begins to slowly warm up. Once you have found the temperature at which the wine tastes the best, take note so you can enjoy it this way every time. If you’ve been served a glass of wine at a restaurant that is too warm, don’t be afraid to ask for a cube of ice or two. Pop it into the glass for just a minute. This will be long enough to cool the liquid without watering it down, and will taste much better than a glass of wine that is too warm. At Wakefield Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our Optimum Drinking Temperature sensors available on Taylors Estate and Promised Land wines. You can also order your FREE sensor stickers today to see the difference temperature makes for yourself.