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Which Wines Should Be Chilled?




A delicious glass of chilled white wine

If you were only able to control one aspect of your favorite wine’s serving conditions, you’d probably be best served to choose temperature. There are few factors that have a bigger impact on our enjoyment. 

A wine served at the perfect temperature comes with balanced acidity levels, desirable alcohol vapors, and accentuated complex flavors.

Luckily, there’s a common rule of thumb for achieving the right wine temperature — serve white wines chilled and red wines at room temperature.

Simple enough, right? Well, actually it’s a bit more complicated than that. And if you don’t know your favorite wine’s optimal serving temperature, you’re missing out on a world of delicious flavor.

To make sure you’re getting the perfect sip every time, let’s take a closer look at optimal wine serving temperature.

Should White Wine Be Chilled?

Absolutely, white wine should be chilled, though probably not to the degree you’ve been taught. The most common approach to chilling white wine is to remove it from the refrigerator and serve immediately. This results in white wine with dull, muted flavors and lackluster acidity.

Most refrigerators operate around 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit while the majority of white wines like to be served slightly warmer around 45-50°. 

Dry whites like it cold at around 45°. This gives them a bright, crisp acidity and allows subtle aromatics to shine. Meanwhile, sweeter whites prefer 50° to accentuate minerality and prevent the sugars from dominating the palate.

There are exceptions to this rule, notably around the fuller end of the spectrum. For example, Chardonnays like it a little warmer, around 55-60°.

To maximize a white wine’s flavors and pour the perfect glass, remove your vino from the refrigerator twenty minutes before serving. This allows the molecules to warm and the flavors to open up. 

Once you have your white wine at the perfect tasting temperature, make sure to hold the glass by the stem. While red wines fare better in stemless glasses, the long stems of white wine glasses prevent our body heat from overly heating a crisp glass of white.

Should Red Wine be Chilled?

After all, the rule of thumb says to serve at room temperature, though rules of thumb can often be misleading. What’s the answer — do you chill red wine?

Almost certainly, yes. While many still advise drinking red wine like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc at room temperature, our definition of “room temperature” has changed drastically.

In years past, room temperatures hovered around 60° due to poor insulation and constant drafts. Now that we have modern insulation and air conditioning, our room temperatures are often ten or even fifteen degrees higher. This provides a more comfortable living atmosphere but a sub-optimal temperature for red wine.

At seventy degrees, red wine can taste oaky and stale as alcohol vapors are amplified and complex flavors turn pungent. 

To achieve the perfect temperature, place your red wine in the fridge for twenty minutes or the freezer for about five minutes before serving. All that’s left to do is serve yourself a glass of properly chilled red wine, and enjoy.

Which wines should be chilled?

How Should I Chill My Wine?

Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true method of popping your wine in the refrigerator or freezer, but what if you’re running low on time?

Many sommeliers prefer to chill their wine by submerging it in an ice bath. This offers a complete cooling experience at about half the time than a traditional freezer approach. 

Simply pour equal parts ice and water into a large pot and leave your wine completely submerged. For whites, aim for around eight to ten minutes of chilling time. For reds, three minutes should do the trick.

Another simple way to speed up wine cooling in the freezer is to wrap your wine in wet paper towels. This speeds up heat dissipation by increasing energy transfer between the molecules, giving you a tastier drinking experience in less time.

An even speedier way to chill your vino is by the glass. If you’re only drinking a serving, pour out five ounces of your favorite vino into a Ziploc bag and freeze it. The tiny amount of liquid and thin plastic will allow quick chilling and provide an easy pour when the temperature’s right.

If you’re looking for a quick chill but don’t want to stop your sipping, don’t reach for the ice cubes. Instead, keep a bag of grapes in the freezer and pop a few in when the time is right. This will allow you to achieve the optimal temperature without diluting those delicious wine aromas.

Finally, the best way to chill your wine is using a personal sommelier like the Wine Connoisseur. This expert wine aeration machine optimizes each glass to its best serving temperature and oxidation level. Stop worrying about the perfect refrigeration time and sip stress-free with the Wine Connoisseur.

glass of chilled white wine

Achieve the Perfect Chill with the Wine Connoisseur

For your next wine night, remember that your enjoyment is going to depend on a bit more than the varietal. If you care about optimal serving temperature, opt for a long-stemmed glass to prevent your hand heat from warming up the cup.

If you’re drinking a light-bodied white or sparkling wine, definitely chill your glass at least ten minutes before serving to keep it cooler for longer. Even a warmer red will appreciate a slightly chilled wine glass; just five minutes in the fridge will do.

If you’d like to taste your wine at its best but feel a bit overwhelmed by all the different optimal temperatures, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

To achieve an optimal glass without the stress of a perfectly timed fridge removal, use an expert wine aeration machine like the Wine Connoisseur. Not only does this personal sommelier chill your favorite varietal to the last drop, but it also oxidizes your wine, allowing those complex, nuanced flavors you love to taste their best.

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