At what temperature should you serve your wine?

The right temperature to serve wine is a fairly common question, and not always, or perhaps almost never, do we manage to agree on an answer. Or worse, we only agree on one thing: white wine should be served ‘cold’ and red wine at ‘room temperature’.

But what do we mean by cold? Our perception of cold can vary greatly depending on the time of year. A wine could seem not very cold in summer, but very cold in winter. And what do we mean when we refer to room temperature? What really is room temperature? Obviously the temperature will differ greatly if we refer to the ambient temperature of the cellar or the temperature our living room.

temperatura-vinos

Before attempting to answer the question of at what temperature is best to serve wine, it is important to understand how it affects our perception when tasting a wine. On one hand, we know that if you drink a wine that is too cold, you will mask the flavour, i.e, the aromas will be much more difficult to perceive and identify. Also, a wine served at lower temperatures promotes sour, salty, bitter and astringent flavours, flavours in most cases we do not want to encourage. We recommend that the minimum reasonable temperature for the service of a wine is 4-5ºC. Below this temperature the wine begins to lose all of its aromas.

On the other hand, as a wine is served at higher temperatures, the more volatile the aromas become, therefore a greater perception of them. However it is important to remember that everything has a limit. If the wine is served too hot, the perception of the alcohol is accentuated and the wine becomes too ardent. Also it is worth noting that with higher temperatures, sweet flavours are accentuated, something that we do not want, especially if you are drinking a wine that is already sweet. The maximum temperature that we recommend serving wine is 21°C, as this is the temperature at which the ethanol compounds begin to volatize, a compound formed during fermentation which is responsible for alcoholic aromas.

So now we know we have a range between 4 – 21°C, where do we go from here? Well, it really depends on the style of wine and what you are looking for on each occasion.

Well, white and rosé wines with fruity and floral aromas are best served at the lower limit of 4-5ºC, as these wines exhibit strong and volatile aromas, even at low temperatures. However, for white wine that has been aged, with roasted and reduced aromas, we recommend serving these wines at a slightly higher temperature to 10-12-14ºC, which will enable you to enjoy all of its nuances.

As for red wines, they should never be served at the low temperatures of whites and rosés, as this would only promote the astringency and bitterness of the tannins. Red wines that have undergone carbonic maceration, which are young and light, and generally fruitier, can be served at a lower temperature of 12-14 ºC, temperatures which will allow us to enjoy and perceive the fruity aromas and the tannins will reduce. For a more structured red wine with aromatic complexity, we recommend serving at around 17-18ºC, with the intention of enjoying all of the aromatic complexity, but without reaching 21ºC, where we would begin to emphasize alcoholic notes.

A brut Cava or aperitif wines, such as a fino or manzanilla should be served at around 7-10ºC. A cool temperature that still allows us to enjoy all of the aromas. For other Sherrys, such as Olorosos and Amontillados, which are more complex wines, should be enjoyed 12-14ºC.

Simple dessert wines, sweet or semiseco Cava again should be served cold, at around 5ºC, in order not to promote their excess sugars. For more complex dessert wines, the temperature should be raised a little to 10-12ºC as to not waste their aromas, but bearing in mind that higher temperatures will enhance the perception of sugar.

It is also important to bear in mind that the temperature of a wine can vary by 2-3ºC while in the class, depending on the temperature of the room. It is also important to always reach the desired temperature in a gradual manner, ie, never place a wine in the freezer to cool, or a heat source to raise the temperature, as sudden changed in temperature can spoil a wine.

Now that you know what temperature to serve your wines, we recommend that you give this a little test! If you are going to consume two bottles of the same wine, serve one at its ideal temperature, and the other at room temperature. Experience the results, and you will see that the two different wines have nothing to do with each other!

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