There’s nothing better than a crisp, chilled glass of Riesling on a hot summer’s day, or bunkering down over a warm, gluey Shiraz as winter frosts the windows. But are we drinking our vino at the best temperature for the wine? We’ve got it from the experts on what the best temps are for different tipples.
Most casual wine drinkers – Mrs Romance and myself included – run with the 2 wine-drinking rules of thumb: white wine should be chilled, red wine should be room temperature.
But there’s a problem.
What really is room temperature? In the sweltering Aussie summer, those with air con can get it down to maybe 19°C. Those without, the ambient room temperature can zoom up to the high 20s.
You see it was those loveable rogues, the Medieval French, who came up with these guidelines. And their places were a lot chillier than modern-day Sydney.
Room temperature really means around 14-18°C – a lot cooler than what I’d usually drink Shiraz. Other reds are recommended be served even cooler than that.
As for whites, it seems there is such a thing as too cold. Drinking wine straight from the fridge won’t let you taste all the flavours and in fact will probably bring out only the acidity of the wine.
So what is the best temperature to drink wine?
Well, there’s seems to be quite a lot of haggling over the exact temperature of different types of wine, but only by a couple of degrees.
The coldest you should have any wine is at about 6°C. The warmest (unless it’s that mulled wine stuff) is 18°C.
This is the general gist – with some of our favourites as examples:
– The sweeter the white wine, the colder it should be served. Moscato and sparkling: 6-8°C.
– Light, crisp wine does well at colder temperatures. Pinot Gris (Josef Chromy Pinot Gris) and Pinot Grigio: 7-10°C.
– As the white wine gets drier or fuller bodied, the warmer it should be. Chardonnay (Scarborough Yellow Label Chardonnay): 10-12°C.
– Good quality Chardonnays can even be served at 12-15°C.
– Some wine can be sweeter or lighter depending on the winemaker like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc (Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc): 8-10°C.
– Rosés (Handpicked Regional Selection Rosé) should be served at around the 10-12°C.
– Red wine follows similar principles. The lighter the red, the cooler it should be. Pinot Noir (Stoneleigh Wild Valley Pinot Noir) and Sangiovese: 12-14°C.
– Darker, fruitier reds need to be warmer still – Tempranillo (Taylors Tempranillo) and Grenache: 14-16°C.
– And the big reds with strong tannins and complex depth need to be even warmer. Shiraz (St Hallett Old Block Shiraz), Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec 16-18°C.
Of course without expensive wine fridges, which keep your wine at a very specific temperature, it’s really hard to get all this right. And the difference between 2 or 3 degrees isn’t going to make too much difference.
A simple way to do it is to use your fridge – but you don’t have to store your wine there. For whites, pop them in 2-3 hours before you want to drink them. This should chill them enough to drink immediately.
Otherwise, if it’s been in the fridge for a day or more, take the bottle out about 30 minutes before you drink it to let the wine warm up a bit.
For red wine, put the bottle in the fridge 20-25 minutes before you’re ready to crack it so that it can cool down a bit.
And if in doubt, pour your wine on the colder side as you can always warm it up in the glass with your hands.
Do you remember those Hypercolor T-shirts that were all the rage in the ‘80s?
Taylors is using ink in their wine labels that’s temperature-sensitive. You can see quite accurately when the wine’s ready to drink by the colour of the label.
Quite smart, I think.
Do you prefer to drink your whites warmer? Do you sometimes drop an ice cube into your glass of red? Tell us how you like your wine in the comments below!