Some Like It Cool: Serving Temperature and Wine

Related To:
wine in bucket

Photo by: Amy Fletcher ©www.aefletchers.com

Amy Fletcher, www.aefletchers.com

Every week, Mark Oldman -- wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the hit series The Winemakers -- shares with readers the basics of wine, while making it fun and practical. In the coming weeks, he'll tell you what to ask at a wine store, at what temperature to serve it and share his must-have wine tools.

The serving temperature of wine is like weather conditions in a city: Small differences can vastly change your attitude about what’s in front of you.  The following guidelines will cast your wine in the most flattering light:

White wine: It’s no surprise that most of us like our whites -- along with our rosés and sparklers -- fully chilled.  It’s just more refreshing that way. At the same time, if you are drinking a special white -- say, an expensive California Chardonnay or French Pinot Gris -- in a setting where you really want to appreciate its subtleties, you might allow a cold white to warm up 15 minutes or so before serving. As eating a frozen Snickers bar demonstrates, coldness numbs our perception of flavor.  A slightly warmer temperature, therefore, unleashes a fine white wine’s aromas and flavors.

Red wine: We don’t drink reds as cold as whites because low temperatures can bring out the bitterness (i.e., tannins) present in many reds, especially in heftier types like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. That said, a bit of chilling -- five or so minutes in an ice bucket -- can focus a red’s flavors and make it taste more refreshing. If the red is a lighter type such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, it can take even more of a chill -- a welcome opportunity in the swelter of a summer picnic or barbecue.

Chilling wine is, of course, easiest in a refrigerator or ice bucket, the latter working even better when you add cold water to the ice, which fills the spaces between the cubes and instills a chill even faster.  As for dropping ice into your wine, it is perfectly acceptable to do it for a few seconds with a simple, everyday glass of wine, as my video demonstrates. And what if you want to keep the ice in there? As wine collector and NFL legend Joe Montana once told me: “I’ll sometimes throw an ice cube in wine, especially in the summer. I’m not afraid to do it. Follow your taste.”  How can you argue with "Joe Cool"?

Next Up

Serving Temperature of Wine in the Summer

The serving temperature of wine is like the weather conditions in a city: Small differences can vastly change your attitude about what's in front of you. The following guidelines will cast your wine in the most flattering light.

10 Clever Tips for Choosing and Serving Wine at the Holidays

Here's how to please all your guests with your pours — plus get delicious pairing ideas from Amanda Freitag.

Cheers! Summer Cocktails to Try (& Some Calorie Warnings)

One of the best ways to celebrate a summer day is with drinks at the pool, barbecue, picnic or just the back patio after a long day. But cocktails can come with a hefty calorie count, especially if you like your drinks strong. Here are some tips and recipes.

Make Your Own Mulled Wine (or Cider)

This holiday favorite is guaranteed to get smiles out of your guests. If you’re a mulled wine virgin, no worries -- it’s super simple to whip up a delicious batch in no time.

Red Wine: Is It Healthy?

Red wine has been coined the good-for-you alcohol. Does it really provide an amazing-for-you benefit or is it an over-hyped health halo?

Wine to Get the Party Started

Having a party next week and don't know which wine to buy? Or how much? Follow these wine tips to make your party tops.

Rosé: Pink Without Blushing

Once you get past rosé wine’s frivolous, heart-shaped-bed hue, the deliciousness of the wine will win you over.

Serve Box Wine in a Flowerpot Keg and Your Party Guests Will Flip

We cannot resist this tongue-in-cheek touch to a Mother's Day brunch, garden party or any ol' springtime get-together.

5 Refreshingly Cheap White Wines

White wines make great pairings with light summer dishes -- fresh produce, grilled fish and more. Our friend from Snooth.com wine forums recommends five of his favorite whites that are light on the palate and your wallet.

Related Pages