Lesson 1 – Proper Serving Temperature

Are you drinking white wines too cold and red wines too warm? Most people (and restaurants, for that matter) serve whites straight out the refrigerator or ice bucket, and reds at room temperature. These are not necessarily the proper temperatures and usually will prevent you from enjoying a wine to its fullest.

Ideal serving temperature for most whites is between 50°-55° F, a range that allows the wine to release its aroma.  This heightens your sensory perception and enables you to more fully savor the wine’s flavor and detect its subtle nuances and qualities. Colder serving temperatures paralyze the wine’s ability to “open up.” Ideal serving temperature for most reds is between 65°-68° F, a range that maximizes the wine’s fruitiness and flavor. Temperatures above 70° (typical of most U. S. homes and restaurants) cause the wine to have a burning aftertaste, or “hot finish.”  Conversely, temperatures below 55° will enhance a wine’s bitterness.


The “homework” for this lesson is to invite some friends over to taste two identical bottles of a white wine and two identical bottles of a red wine.  Make sure not to let your friends know that the wines are identical!  And make sure to camouflage the labels by putting the bottles in a paper bag.

Keep both reds at room temperature.  Chill both whites overnight in your refrigerator.  About 25 minutes before tasting, take one of the whites out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly.  About 25 minutes before tasting, slightly chill one of the reds in the refrigerator.  Then pour everyone a taste of both whites and ask them which one they prefer.  Keep track of everyone’s favorites and then repeat the process with the two reds .  Then uncover the wines to reveal their identities.  Because the simple difference in temperature will change the flavors so radically, everyone will be shocked to learn that the wines are identical and that they’re not tasting two different whites and two different reds … and virtually 100% of the time everyone will prefer the warmer white and the cooler red!