As a winemaker, I am often asked what is the best temperature to serve white and red wines. We always hear that white should be served at cellar temperature and red wine at room temperature. I don’t agree with this. I feel my wines, produced more in the old world style with higher acidity and lower alcohol, are best served a little cooler. I like my whites at 45 to 55 degrees and my reds at 55 to 65 degrees. Try it for yourself.
With a meal, if I pull the white out at 45 degrees or the red at 55 degrees it will warm up 10 degrees over the time that the wine is being enjoyed. When the wines warm up past these temperatures, the acidity is no longer crisp enough to cut the fats produced by the food and they no longer work as well with the meal.
When you sit down to a meal and take that first bit, it tastes great. The second bite is good. But, the third bite does not taste as good as the first one. When you took that first bite, your taste buds were craving the fats in the food. After the third bite, the fats have built up enough that you no longer crave them as much. But, ahhh, that first sip of wine. Wine is acid and after three bites of food, a sip of wine washes out the fats and restores your taste buds to where they were when you took the first bite. If the wine gets too warm the bright acidity does not wash the fats out as well and the wine will not taste as good as it should, because its ability to wash out the fats is diminished.
What temperature do you prefer your wines?
CLICK HERE to view our guide for recommended serving temperatures. For example, Barbera tastes best between 53 and 59 degrees. 20 minutes in the refrigerator should do it. You can try this for yourself with our 2009 Scott Harvey J&S Reserve Barbera which just won a Gold Medal at the California State Fair Competition.