Wine serving temperature: the guide to serving wine flawlessly
It seems a trifle, a fetishist sommelier habit, but the correct management of the serving temperature of the wine is the most important phase of all. For the simple reason that it is not a rule created by sommeliers, but an empirical law: the organoleptic characteristics of each type of wine improve or worsen according to the temperature at which the liquid is in the bottle. Based on this you can not only enhance great bottles by doing them justice with perfect service but also remedy the gaps in the wine and make a mediocre wine slightly better. A young, tannic, and rude red wine try to serve it at 18 degrees to enhance the aromas and make the tannins less rude. On the contrary, serve a banal flaccid white from a Christmas basket at a temperature of 6 degrees to enhance its flavor.
The flavors and aromas, the sensations we experience are mainly conveyed by the nasal receptors, which in turn send impulses to the brain, triggering memories, Proustian biscuits, associations, translated “visually” into aromas and flavors. But this happens because the wine evaporates, releases aromatic compounds that rise to the nose: if you smell a cold glass you will perceive a few aromas and the first reaction will be to take it in your hands to warm it with our human warmth.
Red wines are denser and therefore evaporate more slowly, which is why they are more difficult to manage and should be served at higher temperatures. But raising the temperature of a red without trauma is a slow operation, to cool a white wine just put it in the refrigerator or a basket full of water and ice, for red it is not so simple. We assume that you store the wine at 14-16 degrees in the cellar or cellar with controlled temperature and humidity, so if you need to serve an important and noble red wine such as a Barolo or a Bordeaux, take it out and put it in an area where the temperature is suitable 18-20 degrees. We do not say room temperature, which is barbaric nonsense: between global warming that is desertifying us, air conditioning, and reckless heating of our homes, the old 18 degrees no longer exist in the house. So look for the right place, free of light and odors, or set the right temperature in your cellar, if you have made this investment.
How to manage the temperature of the wine
There is no need to write an encyclopedic treatise on the temperature of wine: a low temperature, let’s say around 8 degrees, inhibits many taste sensations, aromas, sweetness and increases the hard sensations of the wine. Flavor and tannins become more aggressive and so does the acidity. Even, to tell the truth, acidity is not so heavily influenced: an acid wine is sharp at both low and high temperatures. Of course, a blade of citrus and salt like Champagne should be enhanced with cold temperatures: even the acidity of white wines should be titrated with low temperatures. Below 4 degrees of service temperature of the wine, gustatory death is almost reached, it is better to avoid the zone of no return. Give it a try, put some ice in a glass of wine or whisky and you won’t feel many flavors, but only alcohol and the most bitter flavors. It is true, however, that many great and precious wines such as Tokaji and other very aromatic wines such as Asti Spumante should be served at 4 degrees, but this is the beauty of living on the razor’s edge. In any case, they will have time to warm up in the glass, there is certainly no shortage of aromas and when heated they will open.
Red wine in the refrigerator to lower the temperature?
This does not mean that red wine cannot be cooled, on the contrary, in the summer an hour in the refrigerator is ideal for cooling, up to 14 degrees, fruity and not very tannic wines such as Gamay, Raboso, Bardolino, or even a Nebbiolo. Mountain. A Sagrantino or a Tannant must never see the refrigerator.
On the contrary, a higher temperature, let’s say at least 16 degrees, enhances aromas, sweetness, and flavors, helps the bouquet to open, but also highlights the defects. For this reason, if you are doing a tasting for work or profession, the wine should always be tasted even at 14-16 degrees, even white wines.
The wines, however, are different, there are white wines, sparkling wines, but also sparkling sweet wines, passito, Icewine, and aromatic wines, each of which deserves the right serving temperature. Now we will divide into wines by type and grape variety to schematize the temperatures, but as mentioned a couple of degrees are tolerated to find the right balance, after all, there are no rules written in stone. Avoid those pathetic pseudo guides that roughly divide the wines “only” into light whites, full-bodied whites, light reds, full-bodied, and passito red wines, children of prehistoric teaching. Should Gewurztraminer, a full-bodied white wine, then be served at 14 degrees? But who drinks a Gewürz at 14 degrees? And where did they put orange wines?
In any case, in order not to create too much confusion, we make an initial skimming with the two extremes. Let’s start with the whites
Serving temperature of white wines
4-10 degrees, up to 14 for the more structured Burgundy.
Serving temperature of sparkling wines: Champagne (sec and demisec), prosecco, and classic method
It is easy to say that sparkling wines should be served cold: in reality, there are many nuances in between, and depending on the complexity, the temperature increases, especially for Champagne. Locking up all sparkling wines within a range of 6-8 degrees is pure madness. Dessert wines should be treated with intense cold at 4 degrees. Wines such as Prosecco, Pignoletto-Grechetto, and sparkling Malvasia should be served at 6 degrees. The simpler classic method sparkling wines Franciacorta, Oltrepò Pavese, Alta Langa, Cava, Trentodoc, and Champagne are served at 6-8 degrees, while the more structured, aged, and sumptuous Champagne and classic method should be served at 10 degrees, otherwise, you castrate them.
Asti Spumante, sweet sparkling wines: temperature of 4 degrees
These excellent sweet, sparkling and drinkable wines such as Asti, sweet Moscato should be served very cold, at a temperature of 4 degrees to reduce the sweet sensation and allow you to taste the wine more precisely without the sweetness being too overbearing.
Serving temperature of aromatic white wines such as Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Malvasia, Pinot Gris
6-7 degrees: the aromas are so intense that they will not suffer, on the contrary, they will be more delicate and less overbearing. Drinking a Gewürztraminer at 14 degrees is like entering a tropical greenhouse in the Sahara desert. This is true if we are talking about non-macerated wines.
Serving temperature of savory and mineral or moderately aromatic white wines
Serving temperature of Riesling and Fiano di Avellino
These two noble wines are acidic, sapid, but also have a particular, lysergic bouquet which should not be mortified, so dare and serve them at 10 degrees.
Serving temperature of structured white wines
When you are dealing with full wines, perhaps not quite aromatic such as Albana, Ribolla Gialla, Pecorino, Catarratto, Grillo, serve them at 8-10, but they must be managed. The lower the temperature, the more the alcoholic sensation is attenuated.
Chardonnay serving temperature
8 degrees for rocky and lashing nectars like Chablis. 10 degrees for those of the new world that are very citrusy and tropical. If it is rich and sumptuous like a great Burgundy, 12-13 degrees.
Serving temperature of Icewines
They are extremely sweet raisins and therefore to prevent this syrupy sweetness from becoming cloying and to enhance the hard parts and thus balance the wine, they should be served at low temperatures: 6 degrees are perfect for finding the right balance.
Serving temperature of sweet wine, passiti, and Sauternes
Also in this case we must keep the sweetness under control, however, these wines are not sugary like the Icewines, so we can serve them at a higher temperature: 8-12 degrees depending on the sweetness.
Serving temperature of fortified wines such as Sherry and Marsala
For liqueur wines the temperature varies and even a lot: the ideal is the interval between 8 and 14. The more “light” the wine, the lower the temperature: a fine sherry and a fine marsala are excellent wines for fish or aperitif and should be served at 8 degrees. The most full-bodied serve them at 10-12 degrees.
Serving temperature of Port and Madeira and Barolo Chinato
Porto tawny is easy and fruity and should be served at 12 degrees maximum, but the most precious bottles such as a vintage Port wine should be served at 16 degrees, remember that they are alcoholic, strong, tannic wines, but full of aromas that must be enhanced. Madeira and Barolo Chinato are somewhere in between, but they are usually served between 12 and 14 degrees.
Serving temperature of orange wines
Very often wines produced with white berried grapes, but with long maceration, are served at temperatures below 10 degrees, but it is a big mistake. A Ribolla Gialla, a Pinot Grigio, an Albana, a Trebbiano or a macerated Sauvignon Blanc should be served at 14, maximum 12 for the less tannic ones. With a prolonged contract between skins, in practice a red vinification, the wine becomes very rich, acquires tannins and polyphenols, and therefore lowering the temperature increases the astringent sensation. Be careful not to kill orange wines as soon as you pour them: nobody likes a cold wine that is too tannic.
Serving temperature of rosé wines
Also in this case everything depends on thickness and tannins: 8 degrees for light coral-colored Apulian rosés to combine with fried food, 16 degrees for a gritty and rocky Montepulciano Cerasuolo.
Serving temperature of red wines
Sparkling red wines not very tannic, but fresh and fruity such as Raboso, Brachetto (sweet), Lambrusco di Sorbara are excellent if served at 10-12 degrees. Medium-structured wines, but not tannic ones such as Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Gamay, Bardolino, Valpolicella, light Sangiovese should be served at 14 degrees. For lean and not terribly tannic, but fragrant wines such as Pinot Noir, Nerello Mascalese, Rosso di Montalcino, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Rossese and Boca we “set” 16 degrees. Negroamaro, Aglianico, Sagrantino, Barolo, Barbaresco, Tempranillo-Rioja, Bordeaux let’s serve them between 18 and 20 degrees.