Waiter, this red wine is too warm.

Blog Demystifying Wine

Asking a waiter for an ice bucket in order to chill down a red is not as daft as it seems (along with another fact that some white wines can benefit from decanting).

Mirabeau ice bucket

Those who know me will know that I am not a wine snob, in fact I hate any pretension around wine. If you want to put Coke in your Lafite or marshmallows in your rosé (although I’ve never heard of the second example) then you’re very welcome to do so. If you’ve paid for the wine then you have the right to drink it as you please.

However, a winemaker will always have certain assumptions in mind about when and how their wines will eventually be served. The greatest reds from Bordeaux, with their strong tannic structures, are not meant to be served chilled the year following the vintage and similarly the rosés of Provence are not made to be served at room temperature after 20 years of cellar ageing.

But it is true to say that many people serve whites and rosés too cold and reds to warm.

Observer wine critic Tim Atkin MW agrees.

“The temperature of the wine in your glass can have a marked impact on the way it smells and tastes. If you don’t believe me, try the same wine first at 15C and then at 22C. The fruit and the perfume will be more pronounced in the former, while in the latter, the alcohol will leap out of the glass and the flavours will seem jammy and indistinct.

That’s why I give most reds 20 minutes in the fridge at home before I open them, and some considerably more than that. How cool can you go? Especially if they are unoaked, 14C is no problem for lighter-bodied red grapes such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Corvina, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc.

The only thing you need to be wary of is tannin, whether from the grapes themselves or from new or nearly-new oak barrels. The sturdier and more astringent the wine, the warmer you should serve it. Even then, however, I wouldn’t be tempted to go above 18C, even for a Barolo or a Bordeaux red.

Apart from chunky wines like these, you can chill pretty much anything red to 14C. But lighter, fruitier wine is where you’ll notice the biggest difference”.

And rosé and white wine temperatures? When wines are served to cold the aromas and flavours can be significantly suppressed and much of the complexity of the wine is simply lost.

So, to serve your wines just right, take a look at the Wine Serving Temperature guidelines below.

Optimal Wine Serving Temperatures:

  • White Wines: 45-50 °F or 7-10 °C
  • Rosé Wines: 45-55 °F or 7-13 °C
  • Red Wines: 50-65 °F or 10-18 °C
  • Sparkling Wines: 42-52 °F or 6-11 °C
  • Fortified Wines: 55-68 °F or 13-20 °C

But having said all that – it’s really down to you. If it’s baking hot outside you may want to throw some ice-cubes into your rosé or if it’s freezing cold them perhaps make some mulled wine. Just please don’t use Mirabeau red for your base wine for mulling (or at least don’t tell me if you do).

Stephen Cronk
The author: Stephen Cronk

I became captivated with the world of wine whilst on a visit to the Barossa Valley during my gap year in Australia. I went on to join a London wine merchant and studied wine for several years before starting my own wine business at 24. I sold the business aged 30 and went into Telecoms for 15 years, during which time I began cooking up the plan to create Mirabeau.

Related posts