The Correct Temperature to Serve Wine

The Correct Temperature to Serve Wine

There are certain questions that we will always ponder, like:

  • Why do they call it a free gift? Aren’t all gifts free?
  • And is it truly skinny-dipping when overweight people strip down naked and run into the ocean?
  • Or how can someone really “draw a blank?”

And while people constantly contemplate the the proper temperature to serve and store wine, ponder no more.

We have your definitive answers.

There’s a Method to the Madness

There’s a reason wine should be served near it’s proper temperatures.

If you serve a wine too cold, you kill the aromas and flavors and don’t get the full experience. If you serve it too warm, the alcohol will smack you in the face and the wine will seem totally unbalanced.

The usual blanket advice is that whites should be chilled and that reds should be served at room temperature.

And that sort of works.

But think about the temperature in your house. Its probably around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is actually too warm for most wines, says Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and author of The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You’ll Like in 60 Seconds or Less.

Temperatures higher than 70 degrees will age a wine faster. And if it gets much hotter in your house, over a longer period of time, your wine may get “cooked” and then its just garbage.

Ideal Temps

Here are your ideal serving temperatures, according to Simonetti-Bryan:

Light whites: (Riesling Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Torrontés): 44-48 degrees
Bigger whites: (Chardonnay and Pinot Gris): 48-52 degrees
Light reds: (Pinot Noir Cabernet Franc, Merlot): 52-55 degrees
Bigger reds: (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Amarone): 55-59 degrees

Now, unless you’re carrying a thermometer around with you, we get this is tough to achieve every time.

Use Your Fridge to Cheat

It’s ok to use your refrigerator but realize the average fridge temp falls well below 45° F to ensure your milk doesn’t curdle.

But it can help you cheat and get close to that optimal serving temperature.

  • For your whites, put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes or so, and when you’re ready to drink them let them warm up a bit on the counter, says Simonetti-Bryan. (For more on her, see our 5 Questions with A Wine Pro.)
  • Do the same with your lighter reds — yes you can put red wine in the fridge.
  • If your big reds are stored properly, they should be ok and ready to pour.

Quick Note on Storing Wine

If you’re blessed with a wine fridge, then set it to 55 degrees if you only have one temperature option. That’s the perfect middle ground. Then all you have to do is throw your whites in the fridge for a few minutes before you serve them and let your reds sit on the counter for a bit to warm up.

If you don’t have a wine fridge:

  • Store in a cool place. NOT on top of the fridge — it gets so hot!
  • Make sure it’s dark. Wine hates light.
  • Keep the temperature consistent. Fluctuations kill the wine.
  • You want to keep the corks moist. Lack of moisture could eventually dry out the corks. Over time, that dryness could allow more air to seep into your bottles and damage the wine. So try to store your bottles on their side. If the bottle has a screw cap or plastic cork, then it really doesn’t matter.

You can store some wine in your fridge for a couple of months. But longer than that, be careful. The cooler temperatures and lack or moisture can dry out your corks and, well, you now know that’s bad.

So while we will never understand why those little packets sometimes say “fancy ketchup,” (because there is no way to dress up ketchup or anything from a fast food joint), the unresolved question of the proper temperature to serve wine is now answered.


Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.

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