What temperature should I serve wine?

Serving wine at the correct temperature has enormous impact on how wine tastes. It is important to follow the temperature guidelines to ensure a wine’s flavour profile.

Serving white wine

There is a skill to be learned when it comes to chilling white wine. Over-chill a white wine and you run the risk of masking flavours, however, under-chilled wine can be to overdone with too little acidity.

The table below provides a general guide to chilling times based on different white wine styles.

 
 
 
 
 
Light sweet whites & sparkling
4 hours refrigeration 
(5-10 ºC)
Aromatic dry
2 hours 
(10-12 ºC)
 
Medium-bodied dry
1.5 hours 
(10-12 ºC)
 
Full-bodied sweet
1.5 hours 
(10-12 ºC)
 
Full-bodied dry
1 hour 
(12-16 ºC)
 

 

Wine chilling cabinets are also a reliable and easy way to achieve the correct temperature.

Serving red wine

Tannin levels in red wine determine the temperature that red wine should be served at. Fruity reds that are low in tannin, such as Beaujolais, can be chilled like a full-bodied dry white.

The rule generally is that the more tannic a wine, the warmer you should drink it. However, if a red wine is served too warm, it can taste “soupy.” When a wine is “soupy,” you will only be able to smell and taste the alcohol content. Another tip: Be wary of the expression “serve at room temperature.” This saying was developed in the days when dining rooms were about 5-degrees cooler than they are today in North America. In the warmer months, you can chill most red wines for about an hour and then let them stand for approximately half-an-hour.

The table below provides a general guide on red wine serving temperatures. 

Light reds 1 hour
(12-16 ºC)
Medium-bodied reds 1 hour
(14-17 ºC)
Full-bodied reds 1 hour 
(15-17 ºC)

 

Should I leave a wine to breathe?

Uncorking a bottle of wine and leaving it to stand for an hour prior to serving shows little evidence of aerating the wine.

Decanting

Decanting is often considered to be a mysterious and ambiguous process; mostly its effect on a given wine is unpredictable. Decanting was developed at a time when wine was drawn off into a jug directly from a barrel in the cellar.

There is an ongoing debate surrounding the art of decanting and whether or not it is a useful exercise. This debate is centered largely on the question of how beneficial a mixture of wine and air is. The process of wine ageing involves slow oxidation caused by small amounts of air being either trapped in sealed bottles, or entering through the cork. Naturally, one would assume that decanting rushes the process of maturation into a matter of hours.

Research suggests that it is usually young wines that benefit the most from decanting. For fine wines that are up to 10-years-old, generally decant 2-3 hours before drinking. For older wines, 30-60 minutes is considered to be a sufficient amount of time because a wine can “fade away” in a matter of hours.

Decanting also depends on the type of wine.

Decanting red wines

In young red wines, the small amount of oxygen in the bottle usually has not had sufficient time to take effect and decanting enables the wine to mature at a quicker rate. The motive in decanting older wine is to separate the wine from the sediment and to let it take in the air and temperature of the room. Decanter with caution with older wines, as the sudden rush of oxygen may reduce the wine’s overall drinkability.

Decanting Port

Vintage port should be decanted to remove sediment. 

Decanting white wines

White wines usually don’t carry sediment, so decanting has no effect on the taste. Some argue that white wine looks more aesthetically pleasing after it’s been decanted.

How to decant

Keep the bottle in the same position as it was in the rack so any sediment remains in the lower side. Wipe the tip of the bottle clean and decant with a table lamp behind the neck of the bottle so you can see the sediment. Stop pouring when the sediment reaches the neck.

What type of glass should I use?

A glass has a large impact on the aromas released from the wine. At wine tastings, experts use ISO wine glasses – where a bulbous bottom facilitates ample swirling and a tapered neck concentrates aromas. For table wines, we recommend using a 41cl ISO sized glass, as the width allows the wine to breath and release an expression of flavours.

If you can’t find ISO glasses, tulip-shaped or inward-curving glasses will do just fine.

How much should I pour?

You should pour 1/3rd of a glass. This allows for swirling without spillage.