What temperature should you serve red wine at? When I started studying for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualifications last year I soon realised that I was often serving my wine at the wrong temperature. My white wine was usually far too cold and I gave very little thought to the temperature of red wine. I definitely had a lot to learn.
I assumed that red wine just needed be served at ‘room temperature’. But what is ‘room temperature’? Firstly, this is going to differ from season to season. Secondly it is going to differ from house to house depending on how effective the central heating or air conditioning is. Is there a correct serving temperature?
Wine experts define room temperature as between 16-20°C (60-68°F). In fact, modern houses are usually quite a bit warmer than this which means that most of the time we are drinking our red wine a bit too warm. This means that you are not always experiencing the full flavour profile of your wine. Red wine that is too warm can appear soupy, more alcoholic and less acidic. It might be worth considering cooling a red wine that has been stored in a warm kitchen for about 30 minutes before opening.
Serve Different Red Wines at Different Temperatures
Light Fruity Reds
Examples of light fruity reds would be Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Gamay. It came as a surprise to me but these lighter reds should be served slightly chilled. This is not fridge cold but is more of a cellar temperature, 12-13°C (54-56°F). Chilling red wine amplifies any oak and tannin present.
Medium-bodied reds might be some Pinot Noirs, Tempranillo, some Riojas. Use your judgement here. The recommended temperature is 14-16°C (56-60°F). Again, straight from the cellar temperature will probably work but if you have invested in a wine fridge then you have an opportunity to be even more precise.
Some of my favourite wines are full-bodied reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Serve these reds at room temperature, between 16-20°C (60-68°F). Wines that are served too cold can be lacking in aroma. Open the bottle, pour a glass and cup the glass in your hands to warm. A very simple method but is works.
Getting the Temperature Right
Of course, a wine fridge is the gold standard if you want to be precise about temperature control. Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) aren’t lucky enough to own one. We have a straightforward wine cellar thermometer that works very well. There are lots on the market, some traditional, like ours, others digital. I like the idea of investing in a hygrometer/thermometer which measures humidity as well as temperature.
At the end of the day taste is the best judge as to what temperature you should serve red wine at. First, the nose. Is the aroma coming through as you would expect it too? Secondly, the palate. Consider the acidity, the tannins, fruit and others flavors and finally, the overall balance of the wine. You have spent a lot of time choosing your wine so you want it to show its full potential.
Some of my favourite red wines are full-bodied reds from the Rhone. We have captured happy memories of few of them in our set of placemats and coasters. I hope you love them as much as we do.