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Q: Proper Serving Temperatures?

by David on November 24, 2007

Question from Sally: Hello Nancy! We are members of the Goosecross wine club and have acquired some very good wines from you. We recently purchased a wine cooler. Can you please tell me the proper temperature for chilling/serving both whites and reds. Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

Reply: Hi, Sally! Thanks for being a part of our Wine Club and for writing!

Oh, boy… They say that in America we serve our reds too warm and our whites too cold, and I’m afraid it’s true a lot of the time. Of course, serving temperature, like everything else related to wine, is subjective but I’ll go with the tried and true suggestions and you can adjust to suit your taste.

For whites: Most of us enjoy our white wines with a bit of a chill, especially on a warm day. We suggest around the mid 50s F. for our Chardonnay (we serve it at cellar temperature here at the winery) and other complex whites, so you can just drink the wine straight out of your cooler if it’s set at cellar temperature – maybe just a tick cooler for lighter whites.

The guideline is the wine itself. If you serve a fine wine very cold, it contracts and offers very little aroma. For instance, when you make a pot of soup, you can smell it all over the house. If you take the left-over soup out of the fridge the next day, it has very little aroma . Also, the cold shocks and deadens your tongue and it’s hard to get much flavor (careful about serving ice water alongside your wine!). So, if you’re serving a very fine white or bubbly, you may not want to serve it too cold. If it’s a hot day and you want some ice-cold wine, just get something relatively simple and inexpensive and then you can even plunk in an ice cube, guilt free!

For reds: When the phrase “serve the red wine at room temperature” was first stated, they must have meant room temperature in some old European castle! 72 is way too warm to be pleasant for most of us! Cellar temperature, about 55-60, works well for most reds. When reds are served cold, just as with white wine, the aromas and flavors contract, leaving you with a mouth full of tannin. For the lighter-bodied ones, like our Tempranillo, you might err on the cool side and for substantial reds, like our Howell Mountain Cabernet, you might go to the warmer end of the scale, perhaps approaching 65.

I hope that helps! We have a wine-tasting class called Wine Basics in which we cover these kinds of topics, and it’s free for Wine Club members. Or you might enjoy this article on wine service at home from our website.

I hope that helps and that you’ll plan to come and visit some day! Cheers! Nancy

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