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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Keep it Cool---Serving Red Wine at the Correct Temperature

I’m a warm-weather-kind-of-gal (that’s why I now live in San Diego rather than San Francisco).  As winter approaches the Northern Hemisphere, one of the few benefits of this cooler time of year is the increased chances of being served a red wine at the correct temperature.  There’s nothing I find more irritating than to be poured a warm red.  The more expensive the wine (and the more pricey the restaurant), the more annoyed I become.

The ideal temperature for serving red wine is 55-60 degrees (lighter weight reds like Pinot should be served more in the 55 degree range, while heavier-bodied Cabernets are best at about 60 degrees).  Room temperature is typically 70-75 degrees, depending on time of year and climate.  Serve a red at this temperature and all you’ll taste is the alcohol.  A hot summer’s day can be catastrophic on a big, complex red that has not been appropriately chilled.

If you’re served a warm red wine in a restaurant be prepared for a possible battle.  Knowledgeable wait-staff will not scoff at bringing you an ice bucket, however, those not so wine savvy may convulse at such an outrageous thought.  Stick to your guns and insist on the ice-bucket.  (And, if you have a heart, use this as a teachable moment with under-trained staff to let them see the wine’s evolution from warm to the ideal chilled temperature.) 

For those of you who do not have the ability to store wines in their optimum 55-60 range, here are some quick tips for getting them closer to appropriate serving temperatures:

  • For lighter reds which have been stored at room temperature (70 degrees), refrigerate them 2 hours prior to serving.
  • For heavier reds stored at room temperature (70 degrees), refrigerate them 1 hour prior to serving.

Stay tuned for the ideal white wine temperatures in my next BLOG posting.

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