Why ask Why? Serving Temperatures

Why ask Why? Serving Temperatures


Proper Serving Temperatures: Why Ask Why?

Shortly after my daughter turned two she started asking the “Why” questions. You know the questions: “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why can’t dogs fly?” Since these questions challenge so many things we take for granted, they often take some thought to explain.

At a recent wine tasting someone asked, “Why is white wine served cold and red wine served room temperature?” This simple question challenged me to share with you the “Whys” of ideal serving temperatures. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with temperature is actually that whites are often served too cold and reds too warm.

White wines should ideally be served at 45-50°F. The aromas/flavors intensify as the wine warms. Chilling helps reduce the perception of acid in crisp wines, bolsters whites with little acid, and just makes it more refreshing! Ironically your refrigerator is about 35-39°F, which is a bit too cold for whites. Let the wine warm a bit in the glass and wonderful aromas and flavors unfold.

Red wines, on the other hand, should ideally be served at 60-65°F. Depending on your thermostat, this is probably well below your actual room temperature. When reds are cooler, they accentuate the tannins or bitter flavors. Fruity, low-tannin wines, like Beaujolais, are very pleasant chilled. Chilling a hearty Bordeaux, however, is a big no-no! Unless you have a wine fridge or cellar, you may want to chill the reds on ice for a few minutes or in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

The next time you’re out to dinner; don’t hesitate to ask for your red to be put on ice for a few minutes, if you find they are served too warm. You may get some weird looks, but your red will be tastier than those drinking around you.

If your white is served too cold, it’ll warm on its own, or try cupping the wine glass with your hands to speed things up.

Now you know “Why.”