Wine drinkers tend to have extremely strict opinions on the temperature of their wine, but is what they are saying steeped in myth? Should your wine be at room temperature or kept cold? Does it need an ice bath, or can you just throw it in the freezer? Below is some guidance on whether or not to chill wine.
The Science of Wine Temperature
Each type of wine has a different chemical combination. Red wine's structure is based on its tannins, white wine on its acidity, dessert wine on its sugar, and sparkling wine on its carbon dioxide. The temperature of your wine will determine the flavor that is going to be most prominent when you taste it. If it is too cold or too warm, it can mute certain flavors or bring out unsavory ones.
Many will say that red wine is meant to be served at room temperature. However, this concept was created back in the times of castles and wine cellars that were naturally kept at a cooler temperature. Today, if you live in a hot or humid location, this is not going to be ideal. If it is too warm, it will mute the subtle flavors and leave you with an alcoholic smell.
Red wine should be kept within 55°F-65°F. Ten degrees is quite a range, and you can narrow it down based on the type of red wine. For lighter-bodied wines that are more acidic, they should be kept closer to 55°F, whereas fuller-bodied wines that are more tannic are best around 60°F. Fortified red wine is best on the higher end of the scale from 60°F to 65°F.
White and Rosé Wine
If you ever see a white wine at room temperature, wine lovers will gasp! White and rosé wine are meant to be chilled to keep the light flavors at the forefront. Generally, these wines are kept between 45°F and 50°F. If the wine is dryer, it will need to be kept around 45°F; yet, if the wine is sweeter than it should be kept a little warmer at 50°F.
It is not uncommon that you will see someone pulling a sparkling wine from the deep freeze, yet it is vital to make sure that it doesn't get too cold. If it gets too cold, the crispness and tiny bubbles that accentuate sparkling wine will fade away. It is best to keep it between 45°F to 50°F and to serve just a few minutes after opening.
How to Chill
The key to having the perfect temperature for your wine is planning ahead. Generally, it takes 45 minutes in the refrigerator to cool red wine, 2 hours for white or rosé, and two and a half hours for sparkling. If your planning failed, you could also pop a red into the freezer for 6 minutes, a white or rosé for 20 minutes, or a sparkling for 25 minutes. If you don't have space, you can also pop your wine into an ice bath.
A note of warning for using the freezer, if you happen to get caught up in the merrymaking and forget about your wine, there is a good chance that your wine will explode. When the wine freezes, the water within expands; thus, pushing the cork out or causing a crack in the bottle. Therefore, if you decide to throw your wine in the freezer, make sure to set a timer to remind yourself to take it out.
You are now ready for a fantastic event where you can impress all the wine lovers who attend with your perfect wine temperatures! You may face some debate on the "proper" or "traditional" methods of chilling, but now you have the science to back up your claims!