HOW TO CHILL YOUR WINE
Chilling your wine to the optimal temperature will enhance its aromas and flavors, leading you to the most enjoyable tasting experience. There are numerous styles of wine in the market and the ideal serving temperature depends on which style you are planning on chilling. Overly chilling your wine can mute some of the delicate aromas and under chilling it can leave it tasting a bit flat. Sometimes you might also find yourself in a situation where you need to put the chill on fast. So along with examples of wine styles and a serving temperature guidelines, I’ve also included some tips on how to quickly put the chill on.
THE BEST CHILL TEMPERATURE FOR YOUR WINE
Sparkling wines show best in the temperature range from 40°F to 50°F. The cooler temperatures allow the CO2, which makes our sparkling wine sparkle, to stay enveloped in the liquid. Lighter-bodied and more fruit-forward sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, show best closer to the 40°F mark. More complex and weightier textured sparkling wines, as well as Champagnes that have seen longer ageing and developed greater complexity and structure, do better at 50°F.
Light-bodied white wines with aromatic and fresh fruit characteristics such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc enjoy the 45°F to 50°F range. This translates to roughly two hours in the refrigerator.
Fuller-bodied whites, like barrel-fermented Chardonnay and more viscous Viognier, along with Rosé and most dessert wines, shine between 50°F and 60°F.
Red wine should be served in the range of 55°F to 65°F. Lighter-bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir or Gamay show better at lower temperatures. About 1.5 hours in the refrigerator will be perfect. Fuller-bodied reds with higher tannins like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Malbec taste better at a slightly warmer temperature, so keep them for only 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
Fortified wines, which are your Ports and Madeiras, are great between 60°F to 65°F.
HOW TO PUT A QUICK CHILL ON YOUR WINE
Although planning is essential when chilling your wine, every once in a while we find ourselves in a situation of needing to put a quick chill to our wine. Below are a few quick tips on how to do so quickly.
TIP #1. Place your wine bottle in a bucket of ice, water, and salt. First put your bottle in the bucket, add ice, a few handfuls of salt (which lowers the freezing temperature of water), and then fill with water so that the wine is submerged to its neck. Wait 10 minutes and voila!
TIP #2. Wrap a damp dish towel or paper towel around your wine bottle and place it in the freezer. The wine should gain a nice chill in about 10 minutes, but don’t forget to set a timer. I’ve learned this the hard way.
Here’s to happy chilling and enjoying your wine at the perfect temperature!
- Shelly Fitzgerald, Wine Education Specialist, CS, CSW, AWE, WSET Level 3