Serving Wine: The Importance of Temperature

In the same way that temperature affects the reactions involved in winemaking, the serving temperature of wine has a profound effect on how it smells and tastes. I find myself considering this much more during the summer months, especially during the long, hot sunny spells we will experience all season, right!?

A real bug bear of mine is drinking white and red wines served too warm during the summer, I am talking about those 25-30° days, which coincide with the holiday season, in large group gathering places like the bach, beach, BBQs etc… where several bottles are open at once, and fridge space is limited. Yes I know many of you are just saying “Drink up mate, get over it”, but these occasions usually coincide with a special bottle (or two) being popped, that end up tasting quite ordinary, even faulty. For example, an oaked chardonnay served too warm has that broad, flat, heavy feeling with a burn from the alcohol, lacking the lift of acidity, not good. Come late afternoon, early evening, out comes the pinot noir, again that same burning sensation, with a soupy texture, all of the fruit and aromatics missing.

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Legendary French oenologist and taster Emile Peynaud suggests the following rules:

  • Serve tannic red wines (e.g. Bordeaux) relatively warm, 15-18°C
  • Serve complex, dry white wines (e.g. riesling) relatively warm, 12-16°C
  • Serve soft, lighter red wines (e.g. pinot noir and Fleurie) for refreshment at 10-12°C
  • Serve cool, sweet, sparkling, flabby white (e.g. chardonnay) and rosé wines at 6-10°C

As wine warms up to reach the ambient temperature, I suggest serving wines at the bottom end of the suggested temperatures. Your wines will be all the more delicious and refreshing for it.

Cheers,

Brandon