Why Temperature Matters
Wine Experts Agree Temperature Matters
Yes, wine temperature does matter, but what is the “right” wine temperature is debatable. We recommend letting experts guide you on the temperature parameters, but ultimately the “right” wine temperature should be determined by the individual’s personal preference and is completely subjective. Here at VoChill, we are enthusiastic about all things wine, especially the temperature at which we enjoy our wines. There are many things that can alter your impression of a wine – from aeration, glass shape, to possibly your mood, and even the season! While most of these factors have a subtle effect on your palate and experience, it is undeniable that temperature plays a profound role on how your wine tastes, feels in your mouth and on your palate, and its overall enjoyment.
I am not going to tell you at what temperature to drink your white wine, or which reds should be served chilled. I have my own opinion on both, but there are plenty of experts who have defined and generally agree upon what the appropriate temperatures and rules are. I will defer to them and absolve myself of giving any debatable temperature guidelines. Now let me present some history, facts and widely accepted “tips” regarding the serving temperature and the impact it may have on wine’s taste and enjoyment. Most of this writing will pertain to red wine since there is more debate around its serving temperature, and it is widely accepted that white, rosé, and sparkling wines are best enjoyed chilled to refrigerated temperatures.
What is room temperature?
To start, you should know that modern refrigeration, or electric refrigeration, was not available on the market until the turn of the 20th century. These early refrigerators were relatively expensive, and it was not until the 1920s or 1930s that they became more affordable and widespread. And these refrigerators were primarily used for food preservation and probably did not include wine bottle racks. Cellars and basements were more common back then, and those wonderful places did maintain an ideal temperature of 50°-55°F, perfect for perishables and of course wine. For reference, let’s establish that “cellar temp” is 50°-55°F.
And now this brings us to the question, “what is room temperature?” The tradition of serving red wine at room temperature dates to a time before modern heating systems, when homes and restaurants were typically cooler than they are today. In the days before central heating, a “room temperature” of around 60°-65°F (15°-18°C) was considered normal, which is cooler than most modern indoor environments. However, with all our modern conveniences, “room temperature” is now 72°F or greater, and not the classically defined room temperature of 60°F.
Restaurants have unintentionally taken part in perpetuating the myth of modern “room temperature”. This is not because they conspire to, but simply because the cost and complexity of storing and serving red wine at the optimal temperature is both price and space prohibitive. I’m mentioning restaurants, but they are not alone. Wine bars, hotel bars, or practically anywhere you purchase a glass or bottle of red wine for on-premise consumption also have the same limitations of storage space and budgets for wine chillers/refrigerators.
Now that we know a bit more about the history of “room temperature” and how it has changed with the advent of technology, let’s discuss more specifically what effect temperature has on wine.
Temperature’s effect on wine
The following are generally accepted truths about temperature and taste taken from experts and are meant to demonstrate why temperature does matter. Let me start by stating, colder is not better. Temperature can have a significant impact on our sense of taste. When food or drink is hot, it tends to activate more of our taste buds, which makes the flavors taste more intense. Conversely, when something is very cold, it can dull our sense of taste, making flavors harder to discern. For all wines, when served too cold, the flavors and aromas may be muted and less noticeable, it may taste flat or lack complexity, while the acidity and bitterness may be more pronounced. When wine is served too warm, it can taste overly alcoholic and unpleasantly hot on the palate, and the aromas can become overly pronounced, including the less desirable ones like vinegar.
Of red and white wines, it is advised that red wines are typically enjoyed at slightly warmer temperatures. Light-bodied reds like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais are usually best consumed at a temperature between 55°-60°F (13°-15°C) to bring out their fruity flavors. Full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah may be sipped at a slightly warmer temperature of around 60°-65°F (15°-18°C) to bring out more of their tannic structure and depth of flavor.
Overall, enjoying wine at the appropriate temperature can greatly enhance its flavors and aromas, while serving it too warm or too cold can detract from its taste. These temperatures are not set in stone and can vary depending on personal preference and the specific wine being served. However, they provide a general guideline for optimal serving temperatures that can help enhance the flavor and aroma of wine.
One last thing I would like to note is that the commonly used term “serving temperature” refers to the temperature of the wine when it is poured from the bottle to the glass. But what about “drinking temperature” – the temp at which each sip is consumed and enjoyed. As soon as wine at the “optimal serving temperature” is poured, it quickly warms to ambient temperature. Your once perfect pour is now warming to room temp, or even worse, to the heat of your outdoor patio in the summer! Your investment in pleasure and wine enjoyment fades and you must hurriedly sip. This is precisely why we created our VoChill personal wine chillers. To provide more value and enjoyment in every bottle, every glass, and every sip.
Since creating VoChill, we have become temperature evangelists. Originally, we created the product because we simply wanted a way to keep our wine crisp, cool and refreshing in the glass, without compromising the wine or the wine experience, and envisioned something we could just rest our glass in between sips to preserve the chill. But ever since we created our first prototype our eyes were opened to the true potential of the product and its impact on all wine enjoyment. We realized that our personal wine chillers were unique and would allow anyone to find their ideal wine drinking temperature by simply leaving their glass in VoChill for more chill or removing it for less. No other product on the market allowed for this level of control and added this additional level of enjoyment.
In closing, all wine should be enjoyed with a varying degree of chill, even red wine. Simply put, it’s more pleasurable! So, for all those wanting to experience what a difference a degree makes, try VoChill with your next pour. You’ll have fun experimenting with your wine and experiencing how the wine changes along with the temperature like you’ve never been able to do before. Wine professionals are also recognizing the value that VoChill provides and can now be found in a growing number of wineries and restaurants across the country.