White wines too warm will have an alcoholic and flat taste, while white wines served too cold will be refreshing but nearly flavorless. As for reds, keep them too warm and they will tend to taste vinegary. Served too cold and the red wine will have an overly tannic bite.
Quick Wine Temperature Guide
Champagne and other sparkling wines should be served totally chilled. Put them in the refrigerator at least an hour and half before serving or in an ice bucket with an ice-water mixture at least 20 minutes before serving. Vintage-dated Champagne and other high-quality bubbly, however, you should let the bottle then warm up a bit. This will allow you to enjoy some of the mature characteristics in the higher priced bubbly.
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, white Zinfandel and other white wines should also be chilled to 35 to 40 degrees for an hour and a half before serving. However, barrel-aged wines like Fume Blanc will improve if brought out 20 minutes early or allowed to warm up slightly during hors d’ouevres or dinner.
Chardonnay, white Burgundy and other rich, full-bodied and barrel-fermented white wines of high quality taste their best at classic “cellar temperature,” or 55 degrees. Put these wines into the fridge an hour and half before serving, but bring them out 20 minutes early to warm a bit.
Red wines taste best when served at about 65 degrees—cool, but warmer than cellar temperature. So if you don’t keep your red wine in a cool cellar or cooled storage unit, you will enjoy it more if you chill it for 20 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
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