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Wine Serving Temperature | Red and White Wines

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

Whether you're hosting friends and family for a meal or learning how to become a sommelier, serving wine at the ideal temperature can really make a difference.

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The goal of an ideal wine serving temperature is to provide the most ideal environment for the wine’s molecules to move freely. Only then will the tannins in wine, a wine’s acid level, and a host of other chemically-related markers fall into place. However, wine serving temperatures are more varied because the goal of serving wine at a specific temperature isn’t to protect it from extremes or fluctuations.

Keep reading to learn the optimal red wine serving temperature, white wine serving temperature, and access a handy chart to make serving wine even easier.

Red Wine Serving Temperature

While most people mistakenly believe that red wine types should be stored and served at room temperature, 70 °F is too high to create the best flavor profile.

Full-bodied reds have the most complex chemical and tannic structures. There’s more to break. That’s why they have the smallest optimal red wine serving temperature range. Examples of full-bodied reds include Burgundy, Bordeaux, pinot noir, Shiraz, Barolo, Merlot, and Port.

This includes light-bodied wines like pinot noir, Gamay, and grenache, and medium-bodied wines like Sangiovese, barbera, and cabernet franc. Just try not to drop any of these warm, red wines. If you do, we can show you how to remove red wine stains, what to buy for a wine stain remover, and the best wine glasses with pour lines, so you can avoid it in the future.

What Temperature Should Red Wine Be Served At?

The optimal red wine serving temperature for full-bodied wines is between 60–65 °F. Light- and medium-bodied red wines have a slightly larger, lower ideal serving temperature around 55–62 °F. This is not the same as room temperature. So, make sure you don't leave the wine out in a warm environment for too long or you will warm the red wine up too much.

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White Wine Serving Temperature

Chardonnay, the biggest-bodied white wine, has the highest serving temperature of any white, at around 50–54 °F. Other white wines are served much lower. The serving temperature for light- and medium-bodied whites, along with sparkling wines, is 43–50 °F.

Most types of white wine have a serving temperature generally lower than that of red wine. While extreme cold mutes most wine flavors and aromas, a slight dip in white wine serving temperature dulls only some undesirable wine characteristics while showcasing more desirable ones. That’s why white wines benefit from a modest chill.

What Temperature Should White Wine Be Served At?

The optimal white wine serving temperature for full-bodied wines is between 48–60 °F. Light- and light-bodied white wines have a slightly smaller, lower ideal serving temperature around 40-50 °F.

If you’re chilling white wine in a standard freezer or an ice bucket, the temperature goes down about 1° F every 3 minutes. As an example, if you pull your medium-bodied pinot grigio out of storage at 55°F, you should keep it on ice for 21 minutes to serve it at a crisp 48°F. 

Wine Serving Temperature Chart

Wine Type Serving Temperature Time to Serving Temp from 55°F Storage
Full-Bodied Red 60–65°F 40–80 minutes at room temp
Light- and Medium-Bodied Red 55–62°F 0–56 minutes at room temp
Full-Bodied White 50–54°F 3–15 minutes on ice
Light- and Medium-Bodied White and Sparkling 43–50°F 15–36 minutes on ice

To discover what type of body your favorite wine is, check out our comprehensive types of wine chart. From full-bodied reds to light-bodied whites and everything in between, we've got you covered. Just remember that you won't be destroying a wine by drinking it at the wrong temperature, you’ll just be missing out on some of the complexities.

Why Does Wine Serving Temperature Matter?

Wine serving temperature refers to the temperature of a glass or bottle of wine at the time of pouring. Wine is chemistry. Our experience of wine depends on the way the constituent parts of wine, its molecules, behave. The goal of a wine serving temperature is to provide the ideal environment for the free movement of the wine’s molecules—the things we experience as flavors, colors, and aromas.

A wine serving temperature that’s too hot breaks down the wine’s structure, letting the durable ethanol molecules take over. You’ll notice a sharper, alcoholic taste. A wine serving temperature that’s too cold will mute the majority of flavors and aromas. The proper temperature can maximize the taste and let you truly enjoy the wine alcohol content.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Serving Temperatures

If you find wine temperatures confusing, you're not alone. There are many misconceptions about serving wine and whether or not you should even be chilling wine.

With that in mind, take a look at a few of the most common questions we hear about wine temperatures.

Do You Chill Red Wine?

Yes, you should chill red wine prior to serving. It is a common misconception that red wine should be served at room temperature. However, red wine should be chilled to 55-65 °F to ensure the drinker gets the optimal flavor with each sip.

Should Wine Be Refrigerated?

Yes, but only after opening to delay further oxidation. Otherwise, red wines should be stored in a cool, dimly lit room, preferably a wine cellar. White wine should be stored in a chilled environment, like a wine chiller. Proper wine storage temperature is important, so invest in the right wine storage cabinets and equipment.

Should Chardonnay Be Chilled?

Yes, Chardonnay should be chilled. Though Chardonnay is served at a higher temp than most other white wines, it should still be chilled to an optimal temp of between 50–54 °F. This is also the temp is should be stored at, so you may be able to serve directly from the chiller.

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You Got Served

Wine served outside the ideal temperature will still be good, but it won't be as good as possible. If you're looking to truly experience wine in its ideal state, you should follow the tips above to serve the wine at the perfect temperature.

To further increase the flavor profile of your wine, we recommend checking out some of the best wine aerators, best wine pourers, or best wine decanters. These tools can all help bring out the flavor in wine and take your wine-drinking experience to the next level.