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Serving Temperatures

Wine Serving Temperatures


A popular conception is the red wine is served at room temperature and white wine is served chilled, right out of the fridge. Well this is not quite correct. Firstly what is meant by room temperature? Today’s houses are kept between 68° and 72° F. The phrase room temperature actually refers to “cellar” temperature which happens to be 55° F, the average wine storage temperature. The reason red wines are best at slightly chilled temperatures is that alcohol will produce an unpleasant bite on the palette at modern room temperatures. The following chart will help to identify approximate serving temperatures. Remember these are different from storage temperatures.


Sparkling Wines                                   42° F

Average Champagne                            45° F

Gewurztraminer & Pinot Gris                45° F

Chenin Blanc                                        46° F

Riesling                                                 46° F

Average Chardonnays                          47° F

Chablis & Macon                                 48° F

Best Champagne                                  48° F

Soave & Verdicchio                             48° F

Sauternes                                             50° F

Sauvignon Blanc                                   50° F

Tawny Port                                          52° F

White Rhone                                        52° F

Valpolicella                                           52° F                                      

Best Chardonnays                                53° F

Beaujolais                                             54° F

Barbera & Dolcetto                              55° F

White Burgundies & Graves                  55° F

Average Chianti                                    55° F

Cotes du Rhone                                    55° F

Madeira                                               55° F

Zinfandels                                             55° F

Average Red Bordeaux                        59° F

Red Burgundy                                      59° F

Chianti  Classico Riservas                     59° F              

Pinot Noir                                            60° F

Rioja                                                    61° F

Barolo                                                  62° F

Super Tuscans                                      62° F

Best Red Bordeaux                              63° F

Vintage Port                                         63° F

Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz               63° F


Keep in mind that these are average temperatures and will vary by 1 -2 degrees in their ideal state. Also let’s be pragmatic, you are not going to maintain exact temperatures throughout the meal. Notice that the better heavier reds are served warmer than their lighter red counterparts. Also notice that nothing is at 68 to 72° F – the actual room temperature. Also consider that nothing is served directly from the refrigerator at say 34° F. The better whites and deeper whites are served warmer (relatively speaking).


So there you are preparing that marvelous dinner and you forget that the wine is still in the fridge at 34 degrees (F.). Not to worry, I observed the following. I took a bottle of wine out of a very cold fridge, opened it and poured a glass. I immediately measured the temperature with an instant thermometer and to my amazement I found the following results:


Initial Temperature                    32° F

After 5 minutes                         46° F

After 10 minutes                       50° F

Obviously, you cannot get an exact temperature, but if you take a bottle out of the fridge and leave it for approximately 15 minutes and then put it in a frozen ceramic ice bucket, it will be kept at the proper temperature. Now as for red wine, if you take the wine up from your 50° F. basement, just let it sit for about 1 hour to warm up to approximately 64° F. If however you brought the wine home in the morning and left it in the kitchen so it is now “room temperature” (around 68° - 72° F.) then you want to cool the wine slightly. Take the frozen ceramic ice bucket and place the red wine in there for approximately 15-30 minutes. It will then be the correct temperature. 

The other day I noticed an electric wine cooler costing approximately $100. It cools the wine to the exact correct temperature. Of course, in the 5 to 10 minutes after you pour the wine into your glass, the temperature will change, but at least your initial pour will be exact and cost you a saw buck. Interestingly enough, a couple of days later I was serving a fish dinner and wanted a nice white wine. When I went to the fridge to take it out I realized that none had been put in to cool. I immediately went into the basement, retrieved a bottle and placed it in a metal container that was filled with ice and water. Within about 20 minutes, my wine was nicely chilled and ready for my ceramic ice bucket during my dinner.