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Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

Restaurant owners, wine merchants and gourmands, here is an article that will be precious to you! The grapes tell you at what temperature to serve your wines. This is what you need to improve your service, and to enjoy all the qualities of wine. Indeed the serving temperature is an important factor since the ideal temperature of a wine is the one that reveals all its flavours and thus gives it honour!

Tasting conditions


Before discussing the ideal serving temperatures, we offer you some information about the temperature of the wines.
One of the main defects in the service is the temperature of the wine: fresh drinking wines are often served too cold, while chambered drinking wines are unfortunately served too hot.
Temperature is a decisive factor in tasting since low temperatures prevent the expression of the wine's aromas, when high temperatures raise the alcohol which then begins to take precedence over the aromas.

There is no ideal average temperature, it varies according to the wines and depends on several factors such as the structure, complexity and balance of the wine. This is why, for example, the particularities of the wine must be taken into account when defining its ideal serving temperature: thus, the more structured a wine is on tannins, the higher its serving temperature will be. Then, a good wine or an old wine can easily withstand 2 to 4°C more than a simple wine. The ambient temperature also plays an important role in determining the serving temperature, since the wines are tasted a little cooler in summer than in winter.
Here are some indications of temperatures according to the types of wines.

The serving temperature of red wines:

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For the service of red wines, it is necessary to count a few degrees above the ambient temperature. However, it should not be forgotten that wine deteriorates when exposed to heat, and that each wine deserves a temperature that is adjusted to it.

For light and fruity young red wines such as Sancerre rouge: the serving temperature is between 11 and 14°C. By young we mean wines less than 2 years old.
For Beaujolais red wines and tannic wines and natural sweet wines such as Banyuls: the serving temperature is between 13 and 14°C.
For fleshy and fruity wines such as Chinon or Côtes-de-Provence: the temperature is between 15 and 17°C.
For complex and powerful wines such as Saint-Emilion or Châteauneuf-du-Pape: the serving temperature is between 15 and 17°C.
For complex and tannic red wines such as Saint-Estephe: the serving temperature is between 15 and 17°C.
For complex and elegant red wines, such as Corton: the serving temperature is between 16 and 17°C.
Exceptional wines are served between 19 and 20°C.

The serving temperature of white wines:

White wines are served fresher than red wines. Indeed, since the heat accentuates the acidity of the wine, serving fresh white wines makes them less aggressive. If you want to accentuate the refreshing side of a white wine, you can make sure that the bottle is also fresh. We then suggest that you consult the recommended serving temperatures according to the different categories of white wines:

For dry, light and nervous white wines such as Muscadet, Petit Chablis, Mâcon-Villages,...: the serving temperature is about 8°C.
For dry, supple and fruity white wines such as Chablis, Graves, Roussette de Savoie, or Sancerre: the serving temperature is between 8°C and 10°C.
For dry, full-bodied and distinguished white wines such as Corton-Charlemagne, Montlouis, Pessac-Léognan: the serving temperature is between 10°C and 12°C.
For dry and very aromatic white wines such as Gewürztraminer or Muscat: young wines will have a serving temperature between 8°C and 10°C, and older ones between 10°C and 12°C.
Semi-dry, sweet, sweet white wines such as Monbazillac: the serving temperature is between 8°C and 10°C.

The serving temperature of rosé wines

It is for rosé wines that temperature management is simpler. Whether they are vinous or full-bodied like Bandol or Lirac, or lively and fruity like Côtes-de-Provence, the serving temperature should be between 8°C and 10°C. They must therefore be fresh.

It can be assumed that structured rosé wines can be served at a higher temperature: Clarets de Bordeaux, for example, will have a serving temperature between 13 and 14°C.

The serving temperature of sparkling wines


Serving sparkling wines requires a desire to emphasize the freshness and therefore the acidity of the wine. Since acidity and bubbles work together, you will need to serve your sparkling wine cold enough. Be careful not to serve it too fresh, since carbon dioxide dissolves better in a liquid at low temperature: if your champagne is too fresh, its bubbles will be coarse.
There is a rule for the service of sparkling wines: the serving temperature should be between 8 and 10°c as an aperitif and between 9 and 12°C when served with hot dishes.

For raw champagnes, without years and white wines: the serving temperature is between 6 and 8°C.
For vintage champagnes and prestigious vintages: the serving temperature is between 8 and 10°C.
For very old champagnes, but also for complex and aged white wines: the serving temperature is between 10 and 12°C.

The serving temperature of sweet wines

A sweet wine is a sweet wine, i.e. its sugar content is between 12g/L and 45g/L. If it exceeds this rate, we speak of sweet wine. These are smooth wines, which, if the serving temperature is too high, will put too much emphasis on the fatness of the wine. It would then become quite heavy. It is therefore necessary to bring freshness to these wines by the temperature.
For liqueur wines: the serving temperature should be about 6°C.
For simple sweet wines and muscatel: the serving temperature is between 7 and 8°C.
For sweet white wines such as Sauternes: the serving temperature is between 10 and 13°C.

Here it should be remembered that sweet or sweet wines can be served fresher when they are served as an aperitif than when they are served with meals.

Change temperatures


Once these indications on wine temperatures have been taken into account, you can influence the temperatures of your wines during serving, by heating or cooling as needed. Be careful, it is absolutely necessary to avoid sudden temperature variations, and thus to keep your wine away from heat and cold sources that are too powerful.

To cool the wine, the ice bucket is the fastest and safest way. Add water to the ice, plunge the bottle into it and after a maximum of fifteen minutes, you can raise the temperature from 20+C to 8°C. In the refrigerator, it would have taken more than an hour to cool your wine. In addition, the ice bucket ensures that the wine cools evenly and keeps your bottle cool at the table. It can also be used in summer for red wines.
Avoid the freezer at all costs, as it may make your wine too cold and break your bottle.

To heat the wine you can choose to transfer it, which speeds up the heating process. Alternatively, you can leave it in a room at room temperature for two to three hours, avoiding large sources of heat.

Marie Lecrosnier-Wittkowsky for Les Grappes

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