Sometimes a cold, crisp glass of wine just hits the spot…but what exactly is “chilled wine?” Keep reading for details and discover whether or not you should chill your wine.
Everyone has wine preferences. Some prefer sweet white wine and others prefer dry reds. Some like full-bodied wines with noticeable tannins while others only drink crisp wine with soft tannins. To complicate things even further, there’s also some debate about whether you should chill your wine. Maybe this isn’t something you’ve given much thought to, or maybe the thought of chilled wine leaves you horrified.
Well, today we’re here to set the record straight. While there’s not necessarily a wrong way to drink wine (although some might argue about that), the temperature you serve your wine can actually impact the overall flavor and scent. That’s why it’s helpful to understand the optimal serving temperature for each wine. Keep reading and discover whether or not you should chill your wine.
Should You Chill Your Wine?
When you think about it, it makes sense that each wine should be served at a different temperature. There are so many different types of wine and each one has a unique composition. Some have more acidity, tannins, sugar content, and some are more alcoholic than others. Depending on the makeup of a particular wine, the temperature it’s served may subdue or highlight different aspects.
You might have noticed that we’re not saying “Yes, certain wines should be chilled” or “No, never chill your wines.” That’s because it’s not necessarily about the act of chilling, it’s the temperature you’re serving the wine that’s important. Confused? Let us explain…
Many people say that red wines should be served at room temperature. However, “room temperature” can mean entirely different things depending on where you’re located. For example, room temperature in Mexico would be warmer and more humid than room temperature in Canada where it might be cooler. That’s why making broad generalizations like “always chill white wine” are outdated. It’s more helpful to consider the optimal temperature for your wine.
Red Wine Should Be Served Between 55°F and 68°F
In the past, it was believed red wines should be served at room temperature. However, if you’re drinking red wine during a topical vacation when it’s 80°F, you’ll definitely want to reevaluate that idea.
If you’re drinking a lighter-bodied wine with more noticeable acidity, it may be more enjoyable on the lower end of that spectrum. When a red wine gets too warm, the flavor can fall flat and the alcohol may become overpowering. If necessary, stick it in the fridge an hour before you want to indulge.
On the other hand, red wine with a full body and noticeable tannins will fully express its flavors at a warmer temperature. Something like our Fattoria di Travalda will really shine between 60°F and 65°F. If it’s really warm out, you could stick it in the fridge for around 30 minutes. Just don’t let it get too cold, or else the flavors may become dull.
White and Rosé Wine Should Be Served Between 44°F and 55°F
Even fuller-bodied white wines generally benefit from a slight chill. This helps elevate the more delicate flavors, aromas, and helps to create that “crisp” texture that comes from acidity. The trick, however, is to not let your wines become too cold. While it may be tempting to let your wines sit in the fridge for long periods of time, you’ll seriously benefit from strategic chilling.
The white wines you’ll want to be the most careful with are fuller-bodied wines like our Santa Lucia Toscana Bianco. This bottle has a medium-body with delicate floral fragrances that may not bloom properly if too cold. Similar wines (like Chardonnays) are best served between 50°F and 55°F.
The lighter wines with more fruit-forward flavors are the ones that really benefit from cooler temperatures (we’re talking about a range between 44°F and 50°F). Depending on where you’re located this may take up to two hours in the fridge.
You can follow these same temperature ranges for a rosé, but if it has more floral flavors we’d recommend serving it somewhere between 50°F and 55°F (perhaps even 60°F). While fruity flavors can still shine in cooler temperatures, the tiniest bit of warmth really helps highlight floral flavors.
How to Chill Your Wine
The most obvious answer? Stick it in the fridge.
But what if your fridge has particularly cold spots? What if you didn’t plan ahead and it’s 10 minutes until dinner and your bottle is still warm? What if you’re in the middle of cooking and keep having to open the fridge to grab ingredients?
Okay, so a little bit of forethought isn’t a bad thing. There are a lot of variables between wines, refrigerators, locations, etc. That can make it tricky to give solid advice, but here are a few items you should consider…
- Ideally, refrigerators are between 35°F and 40°F. However, this isn’t always the case. Do some homework and determine the temperature of your fridge.
- Determine the optimal temperature for your wine so you’ll have enough time to chill if necessary. Have a wine that’s best served at 45°F? Try to have it in the fridge for two hours, but let it sit outside the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before serving.
- Does your refrigerator have a particularly cold spot? This can be useful! If you’re running short on time you can stick your bottle there to chill it faster. However, make sure you don’t stick any full-bodied reds in that spot.
- If you know you’ll be opening the refrigerator a lot while you’re chilling wine, place your wine farther back and away from the door.
- DON’T PUT WINE IN THE FREEZER. We know it’s tempting when you’re running late on time, but the risk of a wine blowout is too high. If you don’t catch it in time, the water in the bottle will freeze and expand. This can push the cork out or crack the bottle. Either way, you’re looking at a wine-covered freezer.
- When you need to chill wine in 15 minutes or less, use a salt bath with ice. Use some kind of container and add table salt, water, and ice. Place your bottle in the container and in roughly 15 minutes you’ll have a chilled bottle of wine.
To Chill, Or Not to Chill Your Wine…It’s Up To You!
As always, when it comes to your wine, just drink it however you like. Maybe you have sensitive teeth and the thought of drinking chilled wine makes you shudder. Seriously, we’re not here to judge. We won’t even tell if you secretly enjoy a few ice cubes in your Chardonnay–that can be our little secret 😉