The ideal temperature to serve your wines, from ice cold to cool

by Jul 10, 2020News0 comments


Keeping them cool the right way will make you enjoy your wines to the most.Keeping them cool the right way will make you enjoy your wines to the most.

Keeping them cool the right way will make you enjoy your wines to the most.

Hi, dear reader,

Breno is here, once again, to help you enjoying fine and rare wines in the best possible way. I promise that the fine wine investment talk is far from the only thing I do around here!

As time goes by, I keep on learning more details that I hope will lead me to be, if not a critic someday, at least someone whose friends will always reach out to when in need of finding the best possible wine or the most adequate style for a specific tasting or event. And why not use these skills to work on becoming a winemaker, as I set forward here in the blog months ago?

* * *

Today, I’m back to giving you tips on pouring your wine the right way. But this time, on the ideal temperature to serve your wine. Cool, uh? (Apologies for the bad joke.)

“But does it really matter if I am, like, 3 degrees Celsius below or above the ideal temperature?”

Well, do you like warm white wine? I imagine that – neither do we!

Yes, serving wines at the right temperature, or as close as possible, allows us to enjoy the maximum out of their texture, flavors and aromas – with subtle differences being even more determinant than when we debate other issues such as most appropriate glass for each type.

Just as an example: a fresh white wine that’s too cold will mask some of its best characteristics on the palate and stop it from releasing its aromas when aerating, becoming somewhat numb. Meanwhile, a stronger red wine that’s warmer than recommended will overemphasize some of its stronger tastes and alcohol to the point it can become unpleasant and over-tannic.

Having your wine at the peak of its tasting experience in flavors and aromas will also elevate the joy of having a great meal alongside it (oh: for that, here’s our food and wine pairing 101!).

Let’s get to it, shall we?

As a general rule, follow these guidelines and you’ll get your way with the perfect temperatures to serve your wine:

Sparkling wines

Cold, ice cold


julien champagne 12.jpgjulien champagne 12.jpg

Champagne, Prosecco, Crémant, Cava… one thing is certain: serve the bubblies real cold! Ice cold, I’d say. Usually between 5° to 10°C, depending on their quality. It allows to maintain you fine bubbles, not too “gassy”, and still enjoy the delicate balance in their fruit, minerality and acidity.

Higher-end Champagne, such as our magnificent Boërl & Kroff 2002 Magnum, are better around 8° to 10° – to avoid numbing your taste buds and also enhance the fruit in the palate.

Tip: After opening your bubbly and serving your first glasses, you can briefly leave it on ice to sustain its temperature.

 

White and rosé wines

Chill out with ‘fridge’ cold


cold white wine mood.jpgcold white wine mood.jpg

From 7° to 14° is where you should be aiming for when thinking of varied white wines such as Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, Pinot grigio, Riesling and many more. Refreshing the palate to emphasize and balance the higher acidity of these wines is key, here, as it is for rosé.

Lighter white wines, such as Bordeaux blends like this 2012 Château Mouton-Rothschild Aile d’Argent, can benefit from less volatility in the aroma by remaining on the colder side (7°-10°C), as do younger, crisp and low-bodied whites.

Stronger, full-bodied whites such as Montrachet and Chardonnay, that rely heavier on their stronger oak and fruit, can be served more towards on the upper levels, moving closer to 13°-14°C. This allows enjoying their bolder, full mouth-feel.

Red wines

Cool, but not in giant steps


graves fronsac julien 3.jpggraves fronsac julien 3.jpg

Coltrane fans, hope you got that one. And careful with the “room temperature” narrative! There are quite different kinds of red and this widens the scope to something around to as low as 12°C to, in rare cases, as smooth as 18°C or even a little bit more. Let’s make a distinction:

Lighter, low-bodied: Yes, Pinot Noir immediately crosses one’s mind. Red Burgundy lovers, this one’s for you. But it’s also the case for Grenache, Gamay and other lighter reds. These are the ones, among the reds, that should be kept at the chilliest temperature in this category: from 12°C (the ones less on the fruity and more on the mineral and spicy sides) to 14° (fruitier, such as finer Pinot Noir).

In the middle ground, you can find bolder wines lean to more body, darker color, and more peppery notes, such as Zinfandel, Carmenère, Nebbiolo, stronger Burgundy, Cabernet franc, lighter Merlot and some Sangiovese-based ones. These will usually reach their peak at around 14°-16°C, balancing their rising tannins and allowing them to release the reddish and darker fruit aromas as they swirl in the glass and into the palate.

Bolder, full-bodied: Decant it or not, the strongest out here are best enjoyed as close to what many people (misleadingly) deem room temperature: 15°-18°C. Lower ends here are usually recommended for Merlot, savory Tuscan blends – like our launches from Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Marchesi Antinori and Tenuta dell’Ornellaia –, Spanish tempranillo variations from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Meanwhile, those powerhouse, chewy reds need a slightly upper temperature to release those bold tannins, whilst balancing the oak and the stronger black fruit notes and letting its finish go on. It’s the case for the bold Syrah – like these gems from Chapoutier and Montes, classic cabernet sauvignon, Douro, Malbec…

Tip: for the decanted ones, don’t forget to decant them cooler than the serving temperature.

Dessert or fortified wines

Now things get complex


moscatel dessert wine fortified serving publico.jpgmoscatel dessert wine fortified serving publico.jpg

Dessert, complex wines – liquorous, fortified or not – carry diverse characteristics that can lead to unexpected suggestions:

While a golden Barsac-Sauternes like the fantastic 2016 vintage by Château Coutet will be usually perfect when around 10°-12°C, a sweeter but Riesling like a Beerenauslese, that carries more acidity, can go a couple degrees colder.

When it comes to stronger, generous wines, trust the producer: if they present very differing temperatures for a single wine, such as the case of fine Moscatel like these fine and historic vintages from JMF, it has a reason: if you plan on having it merely as an aperitif, 10°C will do, as its temperature will mellow the alcohol and slowly rise in the glass and enhance the fruit and oak as you taste. As a dessert wine itself or a digestive, rising to levels around 16°C is the choice recommended by producers to go with your pairing.

Similar goes to premium Port wine, such as historic ABF 1888 from Quinta do Vallado: they may be perfect from 10° to 14° but even to 16°-18°C (from tawny to vintage), while a white Port is naturally served at lower temperatures.

For Sherry, Madeira, Muscat, others, try to have a look at what the label or producer says about serving temperature. It can’t be too painful, and the return will be unquestionable!

* * *

The tips here are all based on the science behind wines, but hey: it’s always a personal matter. Just as I said for food and wine pairing 101, don’t let anyone disavow your choices if you feel good with them! Wine is, above all, enjoyment.

Don’t forget to check out and invest in the wines available on our marketplace.

See you around!

 


Explore More from Our Blog

Ever heard of a wine cocktail?

DEAR READER, I hope some of you learned from the reader letter last week [hyperlink to Week Ten post] and checked your attics! You never know how much wine sits above you, waiting to be uncorked and decanted—on someone else’s dime! Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, I have a...

What on earth is a ‘Wine Decanter’?

DEAR READER, It’s come to my attention that many of you are ill-informed, misinformed, and frankly, uninformed about how wine is to be consumed. Were I only a wine enthusiast, it would be wholly dispiriting. But—wine is my profession, and I’m obligated to recognize...

“What’s My Next Question?” – Benjamin Kaplan

What’s My Next Question? On a random day like today 11 years ago, a legendary Harvard Law professor and lawyer, Benjamin Kaplan, died at 99 years of age. A rich, marked life that left an impact long after his last breathe. Apart from influencing the likes of Ruth...

Wine that Makes You Look Up

Wines that Make You Look Up Can you imagine having a device that magnifies your view and never thinking to look up, never pointing it toward the sky? Until August 25, 1609, nobody had. Enter Galileo Galilee, the man who changed the way we see and interpret all that is...

Should you be swirling your wine before consumption?

DEAR READER, Through all the melodrama of the past few weeks, I’ve neglected to educate the newcomers about the art of winetasting. So, I dug deep into my inbox for this query: Sommelier Ferdinand, I went to a ball last night and wasn’t aware of the proper pre-drink...

Sommelier Ferdinand answers “What’s the point of drinking wine from a hundred years ago?”.

DEAR READER, I’ve heard what you’ve all had to say, and I’ve decided to reach out to Jerry, once again, to bury the hatchet. Who’s to say if he would be open to making amends… but I made the effort, on behalf of all you insightful readers! I’ll keep you all updated on...

BOXED WINE AND AN ANGRY RECIPIENT – A FOLLOW UP

DEAR READER, Something unprecedented has happened. My assistant has received an additional letter from Jerry. Remember him—from last week [READ HERE] Well, our beloved wine purist wrote back after reading yesterweek’s column: Sommelier Ferdinand, I don’t care about...

Transcending Time through Wine

On August 11, 1888, The Scientific American published its 658th issue, replete with exciting findings. From “A Study on Whirlwinds,” to “The Distillation of Peppermint" and thoughts on the human conscious, this popular science magazine had already been around since...

Boxed Wine and an angry recipient.

What an experience, to receive all your criticisms. That would shake any normal individual. But I’ve spent years having my judgments under a microscope, so I’ve learned to shut my doors to it. You are all welcome to try—but I won’t be changing any time soon! Speaking...

Sommelier Ferdinand answers “What it takes to become a Sommelier”.

DEAR READER, As the grapes grow richer, so do the bottler and buyer! Wine is an investment, my dear readers. Never forget the long game! Now, for some advice you folks have solicited: Sommelier Ferdinand, I want to be a sommelier, like yourself. I have the respect for...

Harry Potter and the Magical Creation of Seña 2007

On July 21, 2007, J.K. Rowling released her seventh and final book of a most memorable series. In just 24 hours, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold more than 11 million copies! On that same day, in a land more fascinating than Hogwarts, Seña 2007 was getting...

This week Sommelier Ferdinand answers the difficult question “Which do you prefer: Red or White?

DEAR READER, Some wrote in after last week, wishing me happiness…? Sending me love…? What do you all think, I’m still in love with Matilde? Save your pity for someone who needs it, I beg you! Anyway: Sommelier Ferdinand, Which do you prefer: Red, or white? -Clarise...