Wine Temperatures: How to get it perfect

Posted in Wine on 02/02/2010
Wine Temperatures: How to get it perfect

In an earlier blog we noted that white wines are ideal usually just slightly cooler than reds, but still around around 10 – 12 degrees.

In his next blog L’Ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbet offers some guidance as to how to arrive at the perfect temperature for your bottle:

Guidelines as to how to arrive at the correct temperature

  • Remove bottle from heated locations – At this chilly time of year the best thing to do is to place your bottle upright in an unheated, but insulated area like a porch, a well insulated garage whilst you prepare your meal, avoiding areas where the average temperature is outside of 10 – 15 degrees.
  • Move in the wine before your guests – Move a red wine to the room that it will be served in half an hour before the meal – away from radiators and direct sunlight – so that it can acclimatise before serving. Do not allow the wine to reach room temperature.
  • Put wine in the fridge at least one meal time before – A bottle of white wine would normally only take a couple of hours to chill, but in your household fridge, the temperature won’t be stable because people open and close the door! So if you’re having wine for lunch, put it in the fridge at breakfast time.
  • Do not store your wine in a fridge – It’s not recommended to keep wine long-term in a very cold fridge, especially if it is bottled with a cork, as you run the risk of the seal drying out and your wine getting oxidised.
  • Do not put ice in your wine – Although this will cool your wine down it will dilute and taint all the flavours. Unless you want to make a soft-drink out of your wine it is an absolute no-no.
  • Use mainly water and a little bit of ice – Don’t just fill a bucket with ice, to maintain the temperature of a bottle as you dine place it in a container filled with water, with a little bit of ice. This will keep the temperature of the whole bottle constant. Consider using this for red as well as white wine, particularly if you have a warmer room.
  • Don’t fill your glasses – Most modern wine glasses are big enough to hold between a quarter and two-thirds of a bottle, so half-fill them. That means the wine isn’t warming up in your glass waiting to be drunk.
  • Keep it in the bottle – Keeping the temperature of wine stable is always easier in the bottle as it is designed to be a good insulator. There are also great bottle insulators on the market that are great to keep the temperature of both white and red wine stable.
  • Use your windowsill for a Dinner Party – A windowsill is actually the ideal location to keep a red wine during a meal (providing there is no sun, and no radiator) because of the cool air around the window which can actually have a stabilizing effect on the wine.
  • Keep household appliances away – Never use microwaves, ovens, dishwashers or very hot water to warm wine. I’ve seen some restaurants warm wine in a dishwasher, particularly if they don’t have suitable wine storage… But you can cook a salmon in a dishwasher, so just think of the havoc it plays to the delicate flavours in wine! Avoid.

In Stephen’s next blog he’ll explain how to get your wine to the ideal temperature even if time is short.