Wine 101

  • Serving Red Wines

    Most of us are familiar with this rule of thumb: serve red wine at room temperature. Really, though, in the typical American household, room temperature is anywhere from 5–15 degrees too warm. What we really mean is, serve red wine at the temperature of a room in a stone castle in the middle of Europe, preferably during the Middle Ages when heating was an issue. Most red wines are at their best at a cool 62° - 65°F. Light, fruity reds like Beaujolais can be chilled slightly longer — to about 58° - 62°. To get there, you can put the bottle in the refrigerator for about 10–15 minutes. No longer, though — you don’t want them to get too cold. Chill Ports to about the same temperature as a good red.
  • Serving White Wines

    White wines can take a little chilling — some, like Champagne, quite a bit. But you don’t want it so cold you can’t appreciate the flavor. Fine white wines are at their best chilled to about 58°– 62°F. (Twenty minutes in the refrigerator should do this nicely.) This is a good temperature for good dessert wines, such as Sauternes, too. Simpler, less expensive whites: about 50°–55°F. (Another five minutes should do it.) This goes for dry or sweet. Champagnes are at their best cold: chill these to around 45°F.

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