Wine Serving temperature
The taste of wine is a combination of numerous key elements, each of which is dramatically affected by temperature. Any wine will only be at its best at the correct, recommended serving temperature.
With this in mind and glass in hand, lets dispel some myths from the get go.
Red wine isn’t best served at “Room Temperature”, in fact it never should be. Never serve white wine straight from the fridge. Every wine has an individual temperature at which it is best served. An at a glance guide for wine serving temperature:
- Sparkling wines 42–46°F (6– 8°C)
- Light white wine 42–46°F (6– 8°C)
- Medium white wine 48–52°F (9- 11°C)
- Full white wine 50–55°F (10– 13°C) (not fridge temp!)
- Light red wines 50–54°F (10– 12°C)
- Medium red wines 57–61°F (14– 16°C)
- Full red wines 61–64°F (16– 18°C) (not room temp!)
One point we will make is that serving temperature is a personal preference, however on many occasions the wine makers actually print on the label the recommended serving temperature, so why would they do this? Temperature is just a reference point, after all it is just a number on a scale…but what do these numbers actually mean? And what is the real effect temperature has when serving wine?
Wine is a fabulously emotive drink, which is probably why it’s the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world with over 31 billion bottles being consumed every year. Wine is made up from a range of different elements which all work together to give the wine its characteristics and feeling. Terms such as aroma, body, alcohol, acidity and tannins are often referred to when describing a wine, yet all of these are affected when the wine is served at different temperatures.
For instance Chardonnay, which is the most popular white wine in the world, when too cold the body of the wine is lost, it becomes thinner and watery. The fruit in the wine is muted which leads to a less than tantalizing aroma and the overall flavour will be diminished.
The same is true of red wines, which for the most part are served too warm. In this situation the body of the wine can be excessive and the alcohol content can be over powering. The complex tannins that are found in red wines are also affected by serving temperature by appearing either bitter or unfocused when the temperature is incorrect.
When a wine is served at its recommended temperature all of the elements of the wine become balanced and in harmony, and the drinker can get the full potential of the wine.
The following table shows the effect temperature has on the different elements of wine, the scale shows being too cold at one end, too warm at the other and conversely just right in the middle.
(*only applicable to red wines)
Wine served too cold; White wine straight from the fridge - no thanks. Did you know that Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the world, yet most ‘normal’ wine drinkers are serving it far too cold! Fridges are fine for preserving food, but can they ruin the fabulous flavour, aroma and body of your whites wines if you let them get too cold.
Just right; Once you discover how to serve your wine at the correct temperature we guarantee that you will change the way you drink wine forever. Being able to taste wine as the wine maker intended is a choice, until now you just never knew it was yours to take.
Wine served too warm; Yuk! - Who ever originally said red wine should be served at room temperature lived in a castle...the modern day wine drinker has creature comforts like central heating, anything over 18 degrees is just too warm for any wine (even for the fullest of reds). Try it, the experts know what they are talking about, and you'll experience all those fantastic flavours that they describe (rather than just the alcohol).
Taste starts in your nose
As previously pointed out, the shape of the wine glass you use alters the speed and concentration that your nose perceives the wine entering your mouth and so the way you actually perceive its flavour. Many of us will have observed someone order a bottle of wine, seen some poured into a glass and the recipient raise the glass give it a swirl and smell the contents. There is a lot that can be discovered in a wine when it comes to scent and it just so happens this practice is one of the most important elements when it comes to discovering wines you like most and everyone’s palate is unique to them. When we taste something we are detecting one or a combination of sweet, salty, sour, bitter however when it comes to all other flavours you might be surprised to discover they are detected by your sense of smell and this makes up the majority of what we enjoy about our favourite food and drinks, wine included. There are numerous scents you can discover in a wine which can help determine which grape variety was used, where it was grown, if it was aged in wood or not. With some practice, and let’s face it who needs an excuse to reach for the rack, you can hone your senses to learn wines you naturally favour most. When smelling a wine there are four main categories to look at: Fruit, Earth, Wood and Other The aforementioned swirling helps to aerate the wine and release its aromas. Swirling tips include placing your glass flat on a table and move your hand in a fashion as if you were outlining small circles with the base. Then stick your nose in the glass and take a substantial sniff. To help hone your developing smelling skills why not set yourself mini challenges and try and identify a couple of fruits and other aromas before the all important sampling!
Tannin - often confused with levels of dryness as tannin dries your mouth. Wine tannins denote the presence of phenolic compounds which add bitterness to a wine. These phenolics are found in the skins and seeds of wine grapes. Tannin is often described as astringent and however unpalatable they sound tannin adds complexity to wine and helps preserve it for longer. It will taste bitter on the front inside of your mouth and along the side of your tongue which it will dry out. After swallowing you will be left with a dry, bitter lingering sensation. Fruit - savouring different flavours. Tasting for fruit flavours helps you define which varieties you prefer. When it comes to tasting for fruitiness in a wine with red wine do you lean to raspberry notes or dark fruits like blueberries and blackberries? When it comes to white wine are you a fan of lemon and lime or peach? Does a wine give you a more powerful presence of other flavours such as black pepper or olive or even grass? Body. So which will it be, light, medium or fullbodied? There are a number of factors when it comes to body, the wine variety, vintage, alcohol level and how it’s made. Body is a glimpse of the overall impression of a wine and you can enhance enjoyment by taking note as to when and where it’s present. The alcohol level ABV (Alcohol by Volume) adds body. A wine high in alcohol tends to taste fuller-bodied than a light-alcohol wine. Detecting body in your glass…taste how does it compare to other’s you have tried, lighter/bigger? How long does the taste linger in your mouth after you have swallowed several seconds to almost a minute? In the region of a quarter of a million different wines are released each year across the globe so it helps to have a heads up when it comes to identifying wine characteristics and where they are from. Bottoms Up!
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