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Vino survival guide - Keeping wine at its best serving temperatures

Published:Thursday | August 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Jason Clarke

 Jason Clarke, Contributor

From time to time, I get emails asking about the correct temperatures at which wine should be served. This is of particular concern given that we have been given the general rule that reds should be had at room temperature and white chilled. This to an extent is true, but for our temperate region, to get the optimal performance from any wine, the right temperature is key.

So what is the right pouring temperature? Based on research and my own experience, I have come up with the following.

Sparklings such as Champagne (French), Prosecco (Italian), or Cava (Spanish) or any other bubbly, ideally should be served ice cold.

For dry sparkling wines, I think you want to get it as cold as you can and this really makes them truly wonderful. The recommended temperature is between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius. Assuming you had the bottle in the fridge before, a suggestion could be to pop it in the freezer 30-40 minutes before you are likely to pour - to get it well chilled. If it is not chilled, you can flash chill it. Use either a wet dish towel or paper towel and stick it in the freezer for about an hour and it should be cold enough to serve. You can use this simple technique to lower the temperature of any wine. Once you open, remember to keep it on ice. You can either put it back in the fridge or set an ice bucket to keep it nice and chilled.

White wines and Rose' (pink-coloured wines like a white Zinfandel) should be kept fridge cold, just like you would keep water in the fridge. The ideal temperature is between 7 and 14 degrees Celsius. If you have a fridge that has different compartments/sections, choose the section that is the coldest to keep it cool. Perfect examples of white wines are Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigios, and Chardonnays.

Light-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir, you can serve cool. Placing it in the fridge 30 minutes before you are going to open it should do the trick. Just decrease the temperature slightly so you can enjoy all the nuances. Recommended temperature is 12-17 degrees Celsius.

When it comes to fuller-bodied red wine, it is where the most controversy resides. Just to put things into perspective - on average, our daytime temperatures are in the mid 30s and, at nights, high 20s. The ideal temperature for these beautiful reds is between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius. Therefore, you can see the fairly sizable difference in what is our room temperature and what temperature it should be served at.


When you drink wine at our room temperature, let's say 29 degrees, it means the wine is way too warm and what you taste is just alcohol, versus the flavour and tannins of the wine itself. This is often an issue for many restaurants and bars, particularly if they are outside establishments.

It is easier to warm a glass than it is to chill it. The ideal fix for a number of these restaurants is to get a wine fridge that can properly regulate the temperatures to give the optimal mix. There is nothing that hurts me more than when I get served wine that is hot, which just makes it undrinkable. In an instance where its simply too hot, you can consider adding a cube of ice and swirling for a few minutes to help lower the temperature. I know that this is not the ideal, but sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands in order to truly appreciate what you are drinking and paying for.

This week's wine suggestion is Trivento Amando Sur Torrontes. I particularly like this wine for its smell. It has such an interesting aroma that is almost like perfume. This particular white wine is fruity with aromas of peaches and citrus and extremely refreshing. I can easily see this as a lunchtime option with a light salad. And remember, fridge cold.