When it comes to serving and enjoying your favourite bottle of wine this summer, make sure that it is presented at its optimal temperature to ensure it is enjoyed as the wine maker intended. Too hot (like summer room temperature) and the wine’s alcohol will be emphasised, leaving it flat and flabby. Too cold (like straight out of the fridge) and the aromas and flavours will be muted and, for lighter reds, the tannins may seem harsh and astringent. The old cliché of serving white wines cold and red wines at room temperature has only ever been a very basic starting point, but not nearly precise enough to optimise your wine drinking experience.
The Complete Wine Temperature Serving Guide
The reason we try to serve wine at their optimal temperatures is because the temperature can dramatically impact the way a wine smells and tastes. By serving wine at its optimal temperature, we ensure we will always get the best experience and enjoyment from our favourite bottle.
Here are my five general rules that should serve you well this summer:
Non-Vintage Champagne/Sparking Wine and Ice Wine Should Be Served Ice Cold — 4 to 6 degrees celsius
I like to put my bubbly in the freezer about an hour before I pop it – but don’t forget about it or you’ll have an explosion. If you’re short on time, you can also place the bottle in an ice bucket for 30 minutes and have similar results. The ice cold temperature will keep the bubbles fine rather than foamy. After you open the bottle and pour the first glasses, you should place the open bottle on ice until the entire bottle is finished.
Lighter Bodied White Wine, Sweeter Rosé, Vintage Champagne and Dessert Wine Should Be Served Cold — 6 to 10 degrees celsius
The best way to get lighter bodied white wine like Sauvignon Blanc cold is to place it in the fridge immediately after buying it; however, if you buy the wine already chilled the same day you want to drink it, either leave it in the fridge for several hours, or you can place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. After you open the bottle and pour the first glasses, you should place the open bottle on ice until the entire bottle is finished.
Full Bodied White Wine and Dry Rosé Should Be Served Cool — 10 to 14 degrees celsius
The best way to get full bodied white wine like Chardonnay cool is to place it in the fridge or preferably a climate controlled wine fridge immediately after buying it. I suggest taking the wine out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to serving and after opening the bottle and pouring everyone their first glass, I prefer not to place it on ice, but instead let the bottle sweat on the table, as the wine’s aromas and character changes slightly as the temperature rises.
Lighter Bodied Red Wine Should Be Served Cooled — 12 to 16 degrees celsius
The most common misconception with lighter bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or Gamay is that it is ideal to serve it at room temperature (see below), when in fact serving it cooled is the best way to enjoy it. To cool lighter red down to its optimal serving temperature, either place it in the fridge an hour before serving or preferably invest in a good quality wine fridge and serve immediately at the right temperature. After opening and either decanting or pouring the first glasses, just as with full bodied white, I like leaving the wine out on the table to slowly warm and open up.
Full Bodied Red Wine Should Be Served at Room Temperature — 16 to 18 degrees celsius
During the summer months, room temperature in Australia sits somewhere between 22°C and 26°C which is not the optimal serving temperature for full bodied red or in fact any wine. Any red wine served too warm will lose all its finesse and freshness to an overpowering sensation of alcohol. To cool full bodied red wine down to its optimal serving temperature, I like to place it in the fridge for 10 - 15 minutes before serving or preferably invest in a good quality wine fridge and just take it out 10 minutes prior to serving. After opening and either decanting or pouring the first glasses, leave the wine out on the table.
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For those like myself who wish to be even more specific, I have included below some more detailed optimal temperature recommendations for Australia’s most popular wine varietals.