“What’s the right temperature for serving my wine?” One of those tricky questions I’m often asked. My usual reply: “whatever temperature you enjoy” rarely ends the conversation. But it’s true. Each of us has our own preferences; take a friend of ours – she prefers her white wines much cooler than I would want to serve them, so cool, in fact, that I think much of the flavour is lost. We’ll never agree – but that’s true for so much in wine.
But, back to the original question. The guidelines recommended by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) allow for individual tastes and so quote a range of temperatures for each different type of wine. So, for example, they suggest sparkling wines should be served well chilled (6 – 10°C, 43 – 50°F), light-bodied whites and rosés a degree or so warmer and fuller-bodied and oaked whites a little warmer still, say 10 – 13°C, 50 – 55°F. Unless you’ve got a temperature-controlled wine fridge, you’ll need to experiment a bit, but a half an hour to an hour in a domestic fridge should be about right.
And for reds? You’ve probably heard the advice about serving at room temperature. But, when that was first suggested, it was before centrally-heated houses were common and rooms were usually far cooler than we would expect today. WSET suggest around 15 – 18°C (59 – 64°F) for most reds but with lighter-bodied examples, such as Beaujolais and Valpolicella, lightly chilled to around 13°C, 55°F.
A bottle I opened recently took the idea of correct temperature to a whole new level with a touch-sensitive heat guide on the label.
Wakefield’s Clare Valley Shiraz (Majestic, £8.99) has a lovely, fresh black cherry nose with attractive dried fruits – dates and prunes – and spice on a rich and full palate. A delicious, flavoursome wine, perfect with game, red meat or hard cheeses – even if we did serve it ‘too warm’ according to the temperature guide on the bottle!