Oct 20 2008

My red wines are feeling feverish

Published by at 6:19 PM under Savvy Sip Tips,Wine Accessories,Wine Education

Popular wisdom says that red wines are to be served at room temperature. If that were the case at my house, my Carménère would be breaking a sweat. It’s a toasty 70 degrees in here at the moment (hey—it’s damp outside today), which is far too warm for any wine. Room temperature used to be fairly crisp. (Have you been to the Doge’s Palace in Venice in January?) It still is in my mom and dad’s house, but most homes are too warm now to allow one to properly appreciate a wine.

If I stored my wine, I’d have to find another place. To preserve their flavor and structure, both red and white wines should be kept at around 52-56 degrees. (Watch for a future post on why one TV interior design show is not to be trusted in the kitchen…)

But I buy to pour. Before I do, I chill my reds a little and my whites a little more. Red wines should be served at around 59-64 degrees, and whites and roses at around 50 degrees. They’ll warm quickly in your house and your hand, so it’s better to start on the cool side.

And it makes a difference in taste. When a wine is too warm, the sweetness, fruit and alcohol come on too strong. It’s difficult to assess the acids and tannins. Wine served too cool will seem sharper and drier; its sweetness, alcohol and fruit will be muted.

Without a dedicated wine cooler, it’s impossible to be precise. Your refrigerator is likely at a brisk 38 degrees or so. Reds don’t need to be there long to cool off, and whites should come out before drinking to warm up a little. Just treat them like your guests—try to make everyone comfortable.

And if you’re in the Doge’s Palace in Venice in January, I recommend hot coffee instead.

Source: “Sales and Service for the Wine Professional, Second Edition,” by Brian K. Julyan

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