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Serving Temperature


Here is an area where attention to detail pays off!

Somewhere along the line, you have probably heard the old adage: Serve red wines at room temperature, chill whites before serving, and keep sparkling wines in an ice bucket until the bottle is finished.

In my opinion the above maxim is too general to be helpful.

Let me try to explain it this way:

Temperature affects the flavor of wine. The colder the temperature the less ability a person has to taste the flavors in the wine. Cold numbs the senses. On the other hand too high a temperature emphasizes the alcohol overpowering the varietal characteristics and nuances of the particular wine causing it to taste “flabby”. Ever taste a warm soda? That’s the sensation – flabby!

Red Wines

Red wines should be served between 60 and 65 degrees in order to maximize flavor and sensual pleasure.

I am from California and now live in Texas. In both locations temperatures can easily reach triple digits in the summer. When I get ready to start the evening meal, I pick the wine I plan to serve and put it in the refrigerator while I am cooking the meal. When I am ready to serve, I pour the wine into a red wine stem ware and swirl and taste. If the wine is too cold I cup the bowl of the glass in my hand which helps to warm the glass. As the wine warms, I move my hand down and pick up the glass by the stem which does not transmit body heat to the bowl. This technique allows the wine to remain closer to the ideal temperature throughout the meal.

Here’s a trick to use if the wine is not up to par, such as a box wine or a Two Buck Chuck red.

Keep the wine chilled throughout the meal. Remember, cold numbs the sense of taste and smell, so if the wine has some peculiar aromas bring out the ice bucket or keep it in the reefer during the meal. Just don’t put ice cubes in the wine, that’s not only gauche, but dilutes any flavors that are left.

White Wine/Rosé

Temperature for white table wine is probably more critical then for reds.

The general consensus is that white wine should be consumed at about 55 degrees
This goes for Rose’s as well.

Tip: White wine glasses are usually smaller than red wine glasses. The smaller size helps the wine to remain colder (More on that later)

Also, if it is an expensive white wine, its ok to serve around 60 degrees.
At 60 degrees, one can taste and smell the complex aromas better. Don’t forget, at the higher temperature it also emphasis any flaws or off aromas!

Sparkling Wines

The whole point of drinking sparkling wines is to see and taste the bubbles.
Take the extra effort and poor sparkling wines into a “champagne flute.” Plastic, glass, or crystal is not as important, it’s the shape of the glass that emphasizes the bubbles! The general consensus for serving sparkling wines is between 45 to 49 degrees.

Something to consider:

There are two recognized methods of making sparkling wine worthy of note.

Methode Champenois is simply the process where the bubbles are fermented in the bottle. It is time consuming, labor intensive, and worth it! Having said that, just because a sparkling wine claims “Methode Champenois” does not necessarily reflect noteworthy excellence. If you are paying $50 to over $300 a bottle for bubbly, you are probably getting “Methode Champenois” but don’t overlook good bargains in sparkling wine produced by the Charmat method.

Charmat or Bulk sparkling method where the wine is fermented as well as the secondary fermentation to create the bubbles is produced in large stainless steel tanks and than bottled. Proseco, the Italian bubbly, and Cava, the Spanish bubbly more often than not use the Charmat method. Don’t overlook these bargains!














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