Wine 101 – Wine Serving Temperatures | By Mark Thomas Walters
The temperature at which a wine is served is important, so it’s worth learning about. It’s commonly said that whites should be served chilled and red wines at room temperature, but that’s not entirely true.
Most of refrigerators maintain a temperature of roughly 4 degrees, and that is too cold for the majority of white wines. Champagne and dry white wines of quality should be served at a temperature between 7 degrees and 10 degrees (sometimes even a little higher). Placing white wine in the refrigerator for an hour prior to serving it will allow it to reach the right temperature, though it can be served right away if it’s been stored in a cellar. Cheaper sparkling wines, sweet white wines and inexpensive white wines should be a bit colder, possibly 4 degrees to 9 degrees, so two hours or so should bring these bottles down to an ideal temperature.
As with white wines, red wines also need to be chilled. Lots of people say that red wine should be served at ‘room temperature’ but this is no longer the case now that the majority of houses are centrally heated and insulated. The ideal serving temperature for most fine red wines is perhaps 13 degrees to 18 degrees, somewhat cooler than modern houses, although this was a common temperature indoors in the past. Therefore, many reds, unless stored somewhere suitably cool, will benefit from being placed in a fridge for around 30 minutes.
If not done with care, wine can be damaged when it’s temperature is changed. Placing it in a fridge is best, with another option being to place it in a bucket of ice and water. It will have the effect of bringing the wine down to 0 degrees, this is far too cold to appreciate the wine, so you’ll need to remove the bottle before it gets to that stage. If trying to warm a bottle which is too cold, there is a more significant risk of damaging the wine. Warm the wine gently, preferably by looking ahead and bringing the wine from its cool storage area (whether it be a cellar or a fridge) several hours earlier. Many are tempted to try and speed up the process by placing the wine near radiators or other sources of heat; doing so will damage the wine.
It’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re not sure about what temperature to serve wine at; opting for too cold rather than too warm. A wine served in this way will quickly warm up in the glass, probably releasing nice aromas as it does so.
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