Walking into the hair salon or barber shop these days, someone is there to take your temperature. If you have ever taken a test to get your food handle’s permit you need to learn about the different temperatures to safely serve cooked meat. Some of us like a chilled room at night when we sleep, others don’t. Then why does it seem like most of us don’t care about what temperature we serve our wine?
I’ve been on a bit of a crusade lately to educate our customers on proper wine drinking temperatures as I was recently caught off guard when I sampled a white wine from a vendor that had been over-chilled in their wine bag. It was a wine I should l have liked, I wanted to like, but sadly I was very unimpressed.
Thankfully the vendor sent the bottle of wine home with me and I left it out on the counter. After pouring another sample about a 1/2 hour later, I discovered a whole new wine. Ten degrees or so in temperature can make a huge difference. When a wine is extremely cold, the acidity rises and its character can be suppressed or even worse, the cold will hide its flaws. What you end up with is wine that can leave you feeling a little…meh.
What temperatures should your white wines be? Lighter white wines should be served chilled, between 44 to 50 degrees F. The white wine cooler at Amitie is set for 48 degrees. White wines with more body or oak should be served at a warmer temperature, 50 to 55 degrees F – just lightly chilled. Sparkling wines are the exception. Like beer, they should be served very cold at around 40 to 45 degrees F.
On the flip side, we usually drink our red wines way too warm. I don’t know about you, but drinking a big, bold cabernet on a warm day is not very fun, especially if it’s been sitting out on the counter all day. When it comes to big reds, you’re looking for an optimal drinking temperature of around 60 degrees F.
However, don’t be afraid to chill light reds. Full-bodied wines will also take well to a chill provided they aren’t too tannic. For reds, cold temperatures heighten the structure of the entire wine, including the tannins, which will become more astringent and downright unpleasant.
This is a quick cooling trick: Immerse it in a mix of ice and cold water—this chills a bottle more quickly than ice alone because more of the glass is in contact with the cold source. The old freezer trick can work too as long as you don’t forget it’s in there! 15 minutes for a red, 30 minutes for a white and up to an hour for sparkling.
I make the point that wine is a living, breathing entity that responds to air and temperature just like we do. None of us like to be too warm or too cold. I encourage you to have some fun experimenting with temperature on your own with both reds and whites. You won’t hurt the wine unless you over-warm or freeze it, so set your your timer and enjoy!