The Chill Factor – Red or White What’s Right?
While many people are aware of the red wine for red meat and white wine for fish and fowl rule (one that is open for wider interpretation these days), the proper temperature to serve wines at is more a mystery for many wine lovers.
It has long been the practice to serve red wines at “room temperature” and to chill white wines. The question that arises is, “what is room temperature?”
“Room temperature,” when used in conjunction with fine red wine, refers to the temperature commonly found in European homes, namely 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is temperature at which many sommeliers feel that a good Bordeaux should be served. Lighter red wines can actually benefit from being chilled slightly to, say, 60 to 65 degrees. Ports should be served at slightly higher temperatures (72 to 74 degrees).
White wines, generally, benefit from a slight chilling. The better the quality of the wine, however, the less need for chilling. One point to keep in mind is that chilling tends to hide defects.
Red wines served at too warm a temperature tend to be flaccid in the mouth.
White wines served at too cool a temperature lack bouquet and subtle flavors will tend to be masked.
(This article appeared in the Winter 1992 Pindar, The Whispering Vines, the newsletter of Pindar Vineyards, Peconic, New York)