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May 30, 2007 08:29 AM

proper wine temperatures?

Two recent dining experiences have spurred this.

1. A glass of grenache rose at a restaurant that I thought was served too cold depriving the wine much of the flavor that I later discovered after I let it sit for maybe 10 minutes.

2. A bottle of muscadet at an oyster bar that I thought was not cold enough. I noticed that the bartender had pulled the bottle out of the fridge. It was at the very beginning of the dinner service and maybe the wine had just been put there. Perhaps it could have used some time in the ice bucket.

After reading the insightful discussion on proper wine service, I was reminded to ask this. There is supposed to be a difference between these two right? And if so, what's the range for these wines and others? I cant imagine that all wines which should be chilled are to be chilled to the same temperature. Does anyone have a good link or reference for this information? The temperatures provided here seem awfully wrong to me, aside from the storage. And it's not specific enough (where is sauvignon blanc?? I tend to like my Oregon/Washington pinot at a little above cellar temperature) to be of any real use.

This list seems more sensible to me, and much more specific. I feel a little better after reading this. I thought I've been drinking all my wines at the wrong temperatures.

Of course, everyone has their own preferences. I'm curious as to see what those might be.

Sorry, one last question. What's the best way to gauge how long a wine should sit in a bucket of ice water, i.e., given a bottle of sancerre and cote du rhone blanc out of the cellar at 55 and room temperature of 67, how long should I steep either of the wines in the bucket and how do I know when the wine is ready? Does anyone have a time-tried method?

Thanks everyone.

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  1. Yeah, that is wrong. I like big red wines at around 65-68 degrees. Lighter red wines generally at 60-65. Rose depens upon the wine but anything from 50-60. Chardonnay really depends upon the wine, anything from 50ish for a crisp Chablis to 65ish for a huge Montrachet or CA equivelant. Rhone varietals again, anything from the very low 50's for a fruity Viognier to the mid 60's for a White Hermitage. Champagne is best below 50. Unoaked (Loire, Austria, NZ, some CA) Sauvignon Blancs I like a litle cooler than their Graves and Graves styled counterparts. Maybe 50ish and 55ish? Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Scheurebe all depend on sweetness and body and acid. Most generally, the sweeter the colder, but the bigger body the warmer (and with more sweetness you tend to get more body). So it tends to mostly cancelitself out and wind up around 50, but you do get outliers like FX Pichler Unendlich that should probably be closer to 55.

    66 is too warm for VP, that one is just crazy talk to me.

    Honestly, though, this is me thinking about the answer. I don't sweat it. If the wine is way off, I adjust accordingly. But I've never thought, "hmmm... this wine is 67 and it ought to be 65, let me put it in the fridge."

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      I think the websites you've cited suggest a degree of precision that is not really practical or especially desirable. Even assuming that you're going to notice a difference of two degrees on your palate, how are you going to achieve (much less maintain) these fine temperature gradations? Warm, cool, cold and colder, adjusted to taste, serves me just fine.

      1. re: Dedalus

        I used to be quite anal about the serving temp of my wines. Then I moved to AZ, where the evening temps can still be in the mid-90s, and got over it. I chill most Rose wines, and some lighter whites, plus sparklers and Sauternes a bit below my cellar - 55F. I bring my reds out of the cellar, and often decant/serve soon after. If the white/Rose is too cool, I just cup my hands on the bowl. Yeah, fingerprints, etc. aside, it works. I never seem to have to chill my reds, but they are most often served inside, and we keep the house quite cool - all seasons.

        Now, restaurants are another story, but I will not go there.

        I no longer use my Edmund's scientific thermometer for my wine, but once did. I worked to the nearest 1F, depending on the wine. However, once I pour, the guests are likely to have the wines sitting for a bit.

        Do not get too hung up on the exact temp. I've been there, and done that, and it isn't THAT big a deal.


    2. First of all, don't worry so much . . . after spending 35 years in the wine trade, I've learned there is virtually nothing about or in the World of Wine that is PRECISE.

      Serving temperature is a bit like serving red wine with fish: you do what you want. (Not even the LAPD will kick in your front door for serving red wine with fish, or a white wine that's too warm.)

      (Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robison -- Broard Generalizations Ahead!)

      Champanges are served cold(est) -- around 50-55 degrees. But bigger, fuller-bodied Champagnes will often benefit from being slightly warmer. (Think Bollinger, as opposed to Moet.)

      White wines are served cold -- around 55-60 degrees. But the same thing applies, so a Muscadet should be colder than a fine Montrachet or Condrieu.

      Red wines are served at room temperature, BUT . . .

      "Room temperature" doesn't mean American in the 21st century, but rather, English manor houses & French chateaux in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Thus, "room temperature" bottles should be noticably cool to the touch. Think (for the sake of discussion) 65 degrees or so.

      And again, cooler for wines like Beaujolais and some Pinots; Cabernets can be a bit warmer, but again -- STILL cool. Also, something to keep in mind -- if a Zinfandel or other wine seems too alcoholic, try using a glass with a smaller bowl, and chill it down slightly.

      Most white wines in the US are served too cold; most reds are served too warm. So, I find I frequently need an ice bucket for reds and not for whites. Five minutes or so is usually enough; or, 10-15 in a refrigerator. Or -- for white or red -- if you're in a hurry, drop an ice cube in it!

      (OK, I might not do that with a red Burgundy or any sort of very expensive wine, but then again, I rarely open these up on the spur of the moment and so I usually have them at the temperature I like them at when the time comes.)

      In the case of that Grenache Rose, you did precisely the right tihing!

      In the case of that Muscadet that was too warm . . . I'd ask for an ice bucket for the bottle, and then take a cube or two and toss it in my glass so I can start on the oysters now!

      5 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        I've heard the 20 min rule. Put reds in the fridge for 20 mins and take whites out of the fridge for 20. Have to admit I haven't tried it but is sounds good :)

        1. re: Eric in NJ

          That certainly works, especially taking the whites OUT for 20. The 20 minutes IN for the reds depends upon your starting temperature, but it is certainly in the ballpark!

          1. re: Eric in NJ

            This is one of the most helpful suggestions I have ever heard of. Thank you!

            1. re: Eric in NJ

              Oh, this is great. I am on here trying to find out about temps for tonight's wines. This is very helpful. We're having some dry whites, a beaujolais villages, and a Mumm sparkler. I am guessing that the Mumm should be cooler than the white stills though, right?
              Thanks again, this is an easy to remember general guideline.

            2. re: zin1953

              Fortunately for me, the servers at the respective restaurants were thoughtful and thoroughly accomodating. In the case of the grenache rose, the server asked how I liked the wine. When I replied, she took the wine out of the ice bucket just in case I wanted a second one. When I informed the bartender that I'd prefer the muscadet to be a little colder, she put our bottle into the ice bucket, and poured out of the one already open in the bucket so that we would not have to wait to enjoy our oysters. Muscadet always tastes better when you get more than what you paid for!

            3. I agree with most of the posters here that it in not a precise science and that your personal preference should control. Eric in NJ's 20 minute rule is usually safe when the wine in question is at a normal room teperature (red) or coming out of a regular kitchen frig (white). We have a two zone cooler for wine, mostly all red. One zone we keep around 55F for longer term storage and the other zone around 62F for shorter term storage. I will normally pull something from the cooler side at least a half hour in advance. The warmer side is ready to pour by our standards. In general, I don't mind starting with the wine a little cooler than optimal (within reason), because I actually like to experience the change as it warms up. We also have an under-counter wine frig for whites that we keep around 50F. For wine that is not in the cooler, we generally just pop the whites in the kitchen frig. They may be too cold at first, but they warm in the glass, and by the second glass the temperature is more suitable having left the bottle out on the counter. We tend to like SB and Reisling a little on the cooler side, chardonnay a little warmer, and most reds a little below room temp. Rose, as you mention, can be a little more difficult. I have been experimenting some this summer and find that many of the heavier roses show their full flavors better at typical red wine temps. Some of the lighter varieties appeal to us more at cooler temps.

              I believe that any red or white wine served too cold leaves one struggling to appreciate the wine over the natural numbing of the taste buds by the coldness. Wine that is too warm, usually a problem for red, is just plain unappealing.

              4 Replies
              1. re: scrappydog

                Oops sorry guys, I misspoke when I said the second list was much more "specific." I did not mean specific temperature; rather I meant that it was much more detailed and nuanced in terms of taking into account the respective regions from which a wine is made, instead of blankly: chardonnay, 62 degrees. By no means am I attempting to find an exact temperature for each one. I'm guessing without really straining myself, +/- 3 degrees would be mostly imperceptible and irrelevant to me. I was just surprised to see, as whiner pointed out, vintage port at 66. I also wanted to make sure that I was not so far off with chiling some wines as to render my tasting meaningless and my actions, well, an insult to the winemakers and other fellow enthusiasts. Fortunately, after seeing your comments, that's not been the case.

                Thanks again. It's been really helpful. Keep em coming.

                1. re: mengathon

                  I also like the in/out of the fridge rule although I prefer 15 minutes. Maybe because I'm in Canada and the minutes are in metric.

                  But I'll only do this for quaffing wine. If it's a nice bottle I want to make sure it's at the right temp for a few hours - especially reds - and I seek out whatever corner of the house is most suitable. As an amateur, I think "shocking" a 20-yr old Chambertin in the fridge is a scary notion.

                  1. re: piggywiggy

                    >>> Maybe because I'm in Canada and the minutes are in metric. <<<


                    >>> I think "shocking" a 20-yr old Chambertin in the fridge is a scary notion. <<<

                    Actually, an ice-and-water bath (like an ice bucket) would be "shocking" the wine, as the decline in temperature would be more akin to a "plummet"! Putting a wine in the refrigerator is actually much more gentle; glass is a reasonably good insulator, and the temperature decline is much more gradual.

                    Then again, if someone is serving a 20-year old Chambertin, I would hope it's been properly stored and there would be no need to cool it further. ;^)


                    1. re: zin1953

                      I know one thing; I like my NZ Sauvignon Blancs cold. Not straight out of the fridge cold, but pretty darn close. Like around 45.