Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's Your Temperature?

No need for a doctor!  We're talking about wine here.  Most particularly, red wine.  Now I expect that most of you serve and drink all your red wines at room temperature.  But what is room temperature in relation to wine?  Most of us are comfortable at around 72°.  Some want it warmer and some cooler, but for discussion's sake we'll consider 72° room temperature.  While this is fine for us, our wines suffer, and we don't get the full pleasure from them.

As wine enthusiasts, we know that the ideal cellar temperature for any wine is 55°.  We also know that not everyone one has a climate controlled cellar.  My basement is pretty close to that this winter at 60°.  In the summer that will rise to the low 70s.  That is still better than my kitchen, which has a day time range of 72°-77° depending on the season.  Now would I want to drink wine between 72°-77° degrees?  Would you?  OK, we're agreed, that's too warm, but still people insist that you never chill red wine.   Maybe we should say instead that we are correcting its temperature.

The proper serving temperature varies by varietal.  I've looked over a number of charts outlining  the proper temperature for specific wines (both red and white), and while they can vary by a degree or two, they are all within the same basic range.  This chart is a good example of temperatures for a large variety of styles, and what I used as my reference.

Light reds such as Beaujolais Nouveau can be served as cool as 48°, while fuller bodied reds are served between 58° and 64°.  This is significantly different than a 72-degree room.  Although our focus is on reds, white wines have their own issues.  Sparklers are at the lower end of the range for whites at 39° to the mid 40°s, but a full bodied chardonnay can be served between 50° and 54°.

More good reading can be found here and here.

The whole outdated idea behind "room temperature" assumed that rooms were much cooler, or, in the case of European castles, in the low 60°s, the optimum temperature for most reds.

This is a sore spot with me, and therefore I wanted to have my say on the subject.  Pretty much the only time we ever get red wines at the correct temperature is at home.  Not even at restaurants, where you would think they'd be knowledgeable and care about the pleasure factor for the customer.  Even Ombu, where I had half expected or at least hoped for a different answer, had all their reds at room temperature. The Chef there is unhappy about this and trying to come up with a solution.  Sadly, I don't expect other places to make the effort.

This is what I want to know, is temperature important to you?  I welcome discussion on the subject.


  1. Thanks for your visit! Alas, I have no wine cellar and not even a wine fridge, but it is on my wish list. And since I live in the deep south where it gets hot a lot, I have been known to slightly chill my cabernet and chianti. Hey, it's my wine, and I can if I want to! :0)

    Wine is something I enjoy daily, but I do not blog about it much! You will however see my cats quite often!

  2. Barb, thanks for checking out me and my "cat family". They are my kids. And keep on chillin' that wine!


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