Unpolished Grape 101: Wine-Serving Temps!

“All white wines should be served cold, and all red wines should be serviced at room temperature…” – FALSE!

While this is the general sentiment, it’s missing several layers in between. Yes, whites are generally more enjoyable when they are cooler and reds usually taste better served a bit warmer. But in actuality, there is a sliding scale in between that will make your wine not too hot, or not too cold, but just right!

Style ServedTempExamples
SweetWell chilled43°-45° Icewine
SparklingWell chilled43°-50° Champagne, Cava, Asti, Crément
Light/Med Bodied WhitesChilled45°-50° Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, Chenin Blanc
Med/Full Bodied Whites (i.e. Oaked), Light RosésLightly chilled50°-55° Fiano, Oaked Chardonnay, Languedoc Rosé
Light Bodied Reds, Fuller RosésLightly chilled55° Beaujolais, Light Pinot Noirs
Med/Full Bodied RedsRoom temp59°-64° Big California Cabernets, Zinfandel, Bordeaux, Rioja, Australian Shiraz, Barolo, Vintage Port, Oaked Pinot Noir
Temps in Fahrenheit

Sweet Wines

Sweet wines should be served “well chilled,” between 43° and 45.° This includes Icewines, Sauternes, and decadent dessert wines. Due to the amount of sugar, serving them warmer may make them taste thick and cloying in your mouth.

Sparkling Wines

Like sweet wines, sparkling wines should also be served “well chilled,” but with a little more room to play- between 43° and 50.° Warmer bubbles are just not very enjoyable (think warm soda). These wines include Champagne, Cava, Crémant, as well as other sparkling/carbonated wines from around the globe.

Light/Medium Bodied White Wines

Moving up a notch, light and medium bodied white wines should be served “chilled” – between 45° and 50.° White wines, especially aromatic expressions, taste better on the cool side, where the flavors like lemon, apple, and pear are more refreshing. Quite frankly, a light and dainty Sauvignon Blanc wouldn’t taste too amazing served warm.

Medium/Full Bodied White Wines, Light Rosés

As you’ve probably guessed, heavier whites should be served yet a little warmer – “lightly chilled.” At a serving temp between 50° and 55,° the heavier expressions of stone and tropical fruit really begin to sing. The added weight associated with riper berries, oaked, or buttery flavors require a little more warmth to come alive. Light Rosés, like many from the Languedoc, are in this category due to their slight presence of red wine fruit and tannin.

Light Bodied Reds, Fuller Rosés

Light bodied reds, like a delicate Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais should be served at 55.° Slightly below room temperature, this “lightly chilled” setting will provide a slight coolness to match the soft and acidic flavors in the glass, but stay warm enough to make the red and black fruits come alive. Rosés with a stronger presence of red/black fruit and tannin will be heavier than their lighter counterparts, and will be most enjoyable at this slightly higher setting.

Medium/Full Bodied Reds

Fuller bodied reds should be served at room temperature, or between 55° and 64.° These deeper red and black fruit expressions, along their associated tannins, won’t taste very special if they are too cold, or too hot for that matter.

But It’s Your Choice

Please note: these are all suggested servings temperatures – your personal preference should always be considered! But if you’re serving for other’s I’d stick to the chart.


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