When You’re Hot, You’re Hot

Most of us don’t like our hot food cold or our cold food warm. There may not be anything wrong with the food; it’s just not as appetizing when the temperature is “off.” Of course there are exceptions, like pizza. But in general, food is best enjoyed when served at its “correct” temperature, whatever that might be.

The same can be said for wine. The temperature can be critical in terms of maximum enjoyment of aroma and taste. If a wine’s temperature is too warm or too cold, it masks or retards its sensual attributes.

Let’s get into some specifics. Here are wine serving temperatures recommended by the Court of Master Sommeliers:

  • Sweet white wines: 43 to 47 degrees
  • Dry sherry and dry Madeira: 43 to 47 degrees
  • Champagne and sparkling wines: 43 to 50 degrees
  • Light white wines and rosé: 45 to 50 degrees
  • Heavy whites and light reds: 50 to 55 degrees
  • Tawny Port and sweet Sherries: 54 to 61 degrees
  • Medium-bodied reds: 55 degrees
  • Full-bodied and aged reds: 59 to 64 degrees
  • Sweet Madiera and vintage Port: 64 to 68 degrees

The first thing we notice here is unless we live in a castle, no wine should be served at what is ordinarily called “room temperature.” Also, notice that the medium-bodied reds have no wiggle room or window of optimum temperatures. It’s 55 degrees, period.

So, let’s say you want to follow these guidelines. How can you maintain the right temperature? My advice is:

  • Start with the right temperature
  • Don’t overfill the wine glass
  • Return the wine bottle to the refrigerator, cellar, or cupboard after pouring

Now, is all this temperature control really possible? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you really want to get your geek on by buying one of the many wine thermometers on the market, and using it religiously to control the ambient temperature of the wines being served. No, if you’re having more than a few guests and find yourself taking wine glasses away from people, or your significant other is glaring at you for all the embarrassment you’re causing.

So, here’s a heretical question: Does all this really matter anyway? Maybe you should just open a bottle of wine and have fun.