The ideal serving temperature for wine allows the organoleptic characteristics of the bottle to be enhanced, to release the aromas, internal notes and more complex flavours. Not all wines are the same and the temperature that best promotes their expression varies according to the aspects to be emphasized. In fact, temperature mitigates some characteristics and strengthens others, determining the prevalence of the structure over freshness or vice versa. If it is higher, it will therefore increase the sensitivity of the taste buds to sensations such as softness and will instead retain sapidity. Therefore, in deciding which wine to serve chilled and which out of the fridge, it is not enough to know the difference between white and red, but it is necessary to work directly on the intention to enhance one or the other characteristic. Luckily it is easier than it seems and in this article we’re going to explain how to enhance your best bottles.
How to identify the best serving temperature for wine
There are many clichés that circulate about the conservation and service of wine. Even today, for example, many are convinced that red wine cannot be kept in the fridge. But how to identify the perfect temperature to offer the best of bottles? First of all, let’s dispel a myth: white wine doesn’t always go in the fridge and red wine doesn’t always need to be served at room temperature. It doesn’t depend so much on the type of wine, but more on its specific characteristics. “Ambient temperature”, then, does not mean much: are we talking about Piedmont in December or Sicily in August? Asking ourselves how many degrees the wine has to be served at, we have to take into consideration the components we want to enhance. Wines having a greater structure should be served at higher degrees to enhance the aspects of the bottle and place it in the range of temperatures that best represent it. In fact, it is no coincidence that sensations such as sweetness and freshness are kept under control by a lower temperature, because if they were further emphasized we would obtain a cloying and unpleasant effect. Precisely for this reason, it is true that in general it is good to serve white wines at lower temperatures than reds, but the two types of wines will in turn be divided into different ranges which we will see later.
What temperature should white wine be kept at?
White wine, being fresh and tending to be more savory, has a very low serving temperature. In fact, the cold emphasizes the characteristics of the varietal aromas typical of a white berried grape and accentuates the astringent effect of the tannins. The temperature for an ideal white wine must not exceed 14 degrees Celsius. Thus, in fact, the sweet tones are normalized and the dry and pungent notes are elevated, making them more pleasant to taste. However, we must be careful: excessively low temperatures can dramatically penalize the aromas, which are a prerogative of this berry. We therefore oscillate between 8 and 10 C° for a young and fresh white wine aged in steel barrels. If, on the other hand, our white wine is more structured with a long aging, perhaps even in wooden barrels, it rises to between 10 and 14°. These wines are represented by bottles such as Boroli Chardonnay Bel Amì, which boasts a higher structure, with complexities made of freshness and minerality to enjoy. If it comes to sparkling wines, temperatures go down even further. In fact, these have fizzy characteristics that must be exploited to the fullest and, for this reason, they ideally oscillate between 6 and 8 C°.
What temperature should white wine be stored at in the wine refrigerator?
To be served in the right conditions, a good wine must be accompanied through a process of maturation and conservation that allows it to release all its qualities at the time of service. For this reason, the storage temperature of wine is a central factor, because it is what allows the duration of the aromas and the right result of the service. White wine in particular must be served between 8 and 14°C depending on its structure. We are talking specifically about wine coolers because the mistake that is commonly made is to keep white wines in the fridge. In doing so, however, you will risk compromising the quality of the wine. While the wine refrigerator is used to preserve the bottles in the right state, the regular fridge must respond to the conservation of food, which must notoriously take place at lower temperatures. For this reason, the temperature for white wine in the wine refrigerator is able to promise the results suitable for our objective, oscillating between 8 and 12 C°.
What temperature should red wine be kept at?
Red wines are the subject of many clichés that still persist: they should not be paired with fish, they should not be stored in the fridge, they must be served at room temperature. Red wine should actually be served at higher temperatures, but not so much as to compromise the characteristics that distinguish it. “Ambient temperature” is a facilitation that does not do justice to the potential of the structure and aromas of a fine label. Below is the ideal red wine temperature for each category.
- The first is formed by younger reds, those in which the vinous scents and floral and fresh fruit notes can be appreciated, which must be served in a range between 14 and 16 C°.
- The second category, on the other hand, should be served between 16 and 18 C° and includes those products of medium structure and refinement, characterized by more decisive but not too impetuous tannins.
- Finally we have a range between 18 and 20 C°, within which those excellences of great tannic content and long aging are to be served.
Exceeding these temperatures means risking too much softness and alcohol, which would cover the evolved and delicious tannins.
Is red wine supposed to be refrigerated?
Although it is a cliché that needs to be dispelled, in many cases it is still right to ask why red wine can’t be refrigerated. Most of the red wines, in fact, risk losing their organoleptic qualities if stored at too low temperatures: first of all, there is the risk of eliminating the specific structure and roundness which, when stimulated by lower temperatures, leave room for sapidity and other qualities that – although appreciated in some cases – do not allow the specifics of a red to shine. On the other hand – although it is true that an extremely cold temperature compromises the values of the bottle – it is also true that too high ones exalt the alcohol at the point that the ripened and excellent tannins are blocked. The conservation temperature of red wine, in fact, must necessarily oscillate between 14 C° – for younger wines – and 20 for important, structured ones. When we talk about “room temperature” we are making a mistake. In fact, the temperature of a red wine in winter cannot afford to fall below a certain threshold and in the same way in summer it cannot rise much. Here a question of balance comes into play: if a red is served in an environment where the degrees are excessive, you have to make sure that it is not excessively cold compared to the surrounding space – therefore it cannot be 16 C° in an environment of 30 – but not too hot either, thus risking highlighting the alcohol characteristics to the detriment of the tannins. So which red wine goes in the fridge? The best answer is: young wines, those with fresher characteristics; but without exaggerating. The best solution is to have a wine cooler that always guarantees the ideal degrees.
Wine serving temperatures
Finally, we provide a table of the temperatures to serve wine, to facilitate the understanding of a seemingly complicated science. In this way it will be quick and easy to know the most suitable temperature of conservation for each type of bottle.
|Structured red wines||18° – 20° C|
|Medium red wines||16° – 18° C|
|Young red wines||14° – 16° C|
|Structured white wines||12° – 14° C|
|Young white wines||10° – 12° C|