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Jun 16, 2006 01:27 PM

wine serving temperatures

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What temperatures do people like for serving wine?

I keep my cellar at 60 degrees, but except for mineral water, Guinness, and the occasional huge, rich white wine I don't like to drink the stuff at that temperature. Most reds I like around 65, most whites around 55.

I was surprised to read that Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, regularly asks for an ice bucket to chill red wine to 56 degrees. That seems palate-numbingly cold to me.


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  1. I don't think 56 is too cold. When ever I really think of it I can't find a reason why reds and whites should be comsumed at the same temperature. There was an article in Saveur several months back that postulated that we drink whites too cold and that we can really taste the wine better if served warmer.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Homer J
      Robert Lauriston

      Many restaurants in the US serve white wine at refrigerator temperature, which makes most white wines tasteless.

      You can easily test that by thoroughly refrigerating a bottle of good white wine, pouring two glasses, and warming one with your hands for a minute or two.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Had a very vivid experience with a bottle of Rudd Chardonnay. It was a hot afternoon and I thought the wine would be great straight out of the fridge. But it didn't taste anything like what I remembered, but as it warmed up, yummy!

      2. re: Homer J

        Also was surprised by many of Bauer's readers saying "shame on restaurants" for not serving at that "proper temperature". I would say more people agree with you than Bauer. Although room temperature is often too warm.

        1. re: eric

          We often ask restaurants to chill the bottle of red wine they've brought to our table - they usually feel very room temperature - 70ish. No one ever complains. It is seems to a rarity to be served red wine at proper temperature, even in a lot of "finer" restaurants - always bumps the place "up a notch" in my book when they do.

        2. re: Homer J

          I agree with the general point that we tend to drink reds too warm and whites too cold, but I wouldn't go as far as saying they should be served at the same temp. In fact, different reds should be served at different temperatures; same with whites. Fuller-bodied red should be served warmer than lighter reds (as another poster mentioned). Lighter whites should be served colder than heavier whites. Most good wine books (such as Jancis Robinson) give simple charts of the best temperature for different styles of wine.

        3. I think a very good rule is to take whites out of the fridge 20 minutes before you plan on serving and put reds in the fridge 20 minutes before you plan on serving. This should put both at about the right temp. One has to remember that reds were always served at "cellar teim" which is somewhere between 56-60 degrees. If a bottle of red has been sitting in your 70+ degree room it's probably too warm to drink enjoyablely.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Monty
            Robert Lauriston

            For white wines, I have a bunch of chiller sleeves in the freezer. Starting from 60-degree cellar temperature, ten minutes is about right for my taste for most wines.

          2. I agree that 56 is too cold for red. Depending on the red, 60-65 is enjoyable for me, though I lean toward prefering 60. The first time I was served a slightly colder red it was suprisingly refreshing. I would much rather a restaurant serve my red too cold than too warm. I can always warm up a glass, but cooling it down requires asking the server to put it in the fridge for a few minutes. Similarly, I don't mind being served my white out of the fridge because I can nurse it until it's the right temperature for me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nooodles
              Robert Lauriston

              Certain light reds such as grignolino and lambrusco taste better to me at ~55 degrees.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                And of course, brachetto, my current favorite. Plese chime in if you have a favorite make and vintage.