WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD WINE BE SERVED AT?

Written by James Hindle

Here at the PopUpHQ near Newton MRT we are often asked about the best serving temperatures for different wines.  Some of the most popular questions (and our answers) appear below:

Q) What do winemakers mean when they say “white wine should be served chilled and red wine at room temperature”?

This is a very old maxim.  Room temperature refers to the typical indoor temperature as it was in France during the Middle Ages – well before the invention of either air conditioning or modern central heating!  It is a temperature between 15 and 18°C.

Chilled, is a temperature between 8 and 10°C, a number close to the temperature of an underground cellar.  It should not be mistaken for the temperature of a modern fridge, which will typically be a much colder 5°C.

Q) What happens to wine when it’s served at the wrong temperature?

Served too cold, a white wine’s flavours and aromas will be masked.  Even a fine wine may seem bland.  Served too warm, a white wine will become unbalanced.

Red wines suffer in a similar manner: too cold and both flavours and aromas will seem subdued, with mouth-drying tannins brought to the fore.  When served too warm the alcohol present in red wine is emphasised.  The latter is particularly unpleasant!

wine-thermometer-celsius-or-fahrenheit-3
Serving temperatures are important. Thermometers can remove the need for guesswork!

Q) How can I tell what temperature my wine is?

Wine thermometers, both of a probe style and digital devices which affix to the outside of the bottle are available online and are inexpensive.  Designs even exist that beep when the target temperature is reached.  Just be careful not to accidentally purchase a Fahrenheit-only version – they do exist!

Q) I have a wine fridge, what temperature should it be set at?

Dedicated wine fridges are popular in Singapore and are a superb low-effort option.  These fridges will keep wine at a specified temperature, meaning it is available for immediate enjoyment whenever desired.

PopUp recommend setting white wine fridges to 8°C and red to 15°C.  Both recommendations are towards the lower end of the optimum temperatures (please see the graphic below) as it is very easy to warm a wine by several degrees, but tricky to cool a wine served too warm!

Q) How should I warm, or cool, wine?

The first is easy – wine will naturally warm to the temperature of the room.  To accelerate the process, cup a glass of wine in both hands: the warmth of your hands will slowly raise the wine’s temperature.

To cool wine, place the bottle in a fridge or ice bucket until it reaches the desired temperature.  Freezers can also be used, although a little care should be taken.  When wine freezes, it expands. This pressure can shatter glass, resulting in a horrible mushy mess and an angry wife!

serving temperatures2
Recommended serving temperatures

Should you have a wine which isn’t included in the above graphic, or if you are unsure which grape/grapes a particular wine is made from, please don’t hesitate to drop an email to us at PopUpWine (Sam@PopUpWine.com.sg).   We are happy to help, and – since we don’t expect you to buy all of your wine from us – this offer isn’t restricted to wines currently on our website!

James Hindle, February 2nd 2016


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