Red wines are often misunderstood.
People think that unlike white wines, red wine are best at room temperature.
This is a complete myth, and the majority of red wines are best served chilled, like the cabernet sauvignon.
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Below, we go into more detail about red wine temperature and storage options:
Do You Chill Red Wine? (Serving & Storage)
Yes, red wine should be chilled. Red wines should be served and stored chilled, between 12-18°C (55°F–65°F). The lighter bodied the red wine, the cooler it should be. Chilling red wine for up to 30 minutes can help to bring it down to the right serving temperature.
Light-bodied red wines prefer the lower temperatures in the range, whereas full-bodied red wines prefer the warmer end of the range.
|Serving Temperature||Storage Temperature|
|Red Wine||12 - 18°C or 55°F - 65°F||12 - 18°C or 55°F - 65°F|
The temperature of the served wine greatly influences its taste.
A wine served above 18°C will change the structure of the wine, softening it.
This leads to the taste of the alcohol being more noticeable.
However, chilling the same wine to temperatures around 12-15°C will make the flavours more focused and the alcohol taste won’t be noticeable.
Bear in mind, that if you serve the same wine at a temp below 12°C, the wine will taste completely different. The overall flavour of the wine will feel somewhat subdued and the alcohol would be barely noticeable.
Which Red Wine Should You Chill?
All red wines should be chilled to reach between 12-18°C (55°F–65°F).
The general rule is that the lighter the wine, the colder it should be.
Why are lighter reds better cold?
Because unlike heavier reds, these wines are appreciated for their bright and refreshing taste.
Wines that are fruity tend to lose their taste when served too warm. Serving them chilled really focuses the flavour, and I’d recommend you play around and chill all reds, light or heavy.
But no red wine really tastes better at room temperature.
In fact, red wines served at room temperature tend to be sloppy and have an overripe fruit aroma.
3 Popular Styles of Red Wine and Their Ideal Serving Temperature
- Light, Fruity Reds: Gamay, Beaujolais, and Pinot Noir are all lighter reds and should be served chilled between 12-13°C (54-56°F). Oak and tannin flavours in these wines are heightened by chilling to lower temperatures.
- Medium Bodied Reds: Red wines with a medium body include several Riojas, Tempranillo, and Pinot Noir. The suggested temperature range for serving is 14–16 °C (56–60 °F).
- Full Bodied Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz (Syrah) should be served between 16 and 20 °C (60 and 68 °F) or essentially room temperature. If these wines are served too cold wine service it may result in aromas of these varieties being reduced.
5 Best Ways to Chill Reds
Here are a selection of ways to best bring your red wines to the desired serving temperature.
1. Use a Wine Fridge
- Keeping your wine in a temperature controlled red wine fridge is the best way to keep it chilled and ready to serve whenever you like.
- You can purchase dual zone wine coolers to store wine at two different temperatures, perfect if you enjoy both red and white wine.
2. Using a Normal Fridge (in advance)
- As most things in life, it is better to prepare beforehand. Place your reds or whites in a wine fridge and remove them from the wine fridge 1 or 2 hours before serving.
- The ideal temperature for your wine fridge is between 6-18°C depending on the types of wine inside.
3. Using the Freezer
- It’s no secret that everyone has done this at least a couple times in their life. While nothing bad happens to the wine’s taste when left to cool in the freezer. There is the risk of the bottle exploding and causing a mess inside your freezer.
- Why does this happen? Simply, because when the water inside the wine freezes, it expands and takes more space which leads to cracking the bottle or pushing the cork.
- The ideal freezing time for the bottle in the freezer to avoid a catastrophe is 30 minutes.
4. The Best Way to Quickly Chill Wine
- The easiest way to quickly chill wine is to dip the bottle into an icy salt bath. Add salt, water and ice into a container and then place the bottle. The ice will absorb heat from the water (as heat flows from hot to cold objects).
- The salt will bring the temp of water below freezing point. A rosé can be chilled in less than 15 minutes with this method.
5. Other Chilling Methods
- If you’d like to take it with you, get a well-insulated tote that can hold from 2 to 4 bottles.
- For a single bottle, get an insulated sleeve that can hold a 750ml bottle. If you’re home just pour into a glass and leave the glass in the fridge. It’ll take less time to chill a glass than an entire bottle.
- Reusable ice cubes are always handy and you can keep multiple cubes in the freezer if you’re expecting company.
6. Take Care Though
- A chilled stem glass won’t have enough surface area to lower the wine’s temperature.
- While ice cubes can be handy to chill your wine, they can cause your wine to be diluted.
- If you are truly desperate and in a hurry, pour your wine into a plastic bag and dip into ice water. It can reach the required temperatures in around 2 minutes.
Related: How To Store Red Wine
Should You Refrigerate Red Wines?
In most cases the answer to the question "does wine (red) belong in the fridge" is yes and no. Red can be stored in a domestic refrigerator to bring it to the appropriate serving temperature.
Before serving, your Reds should ideally be chilled to 12–18°C (55–65°F) in the refrigerator.
However you can store reds in a specialised wine fridge if you want to ensure that you always serve your Reds at the ideal temperature, as these specialised wine fridges can be set between 12–18°C (55–65°F).
How Long Should You Chill Red Wine?
If you have a kitchen refrigerator, the drier conditions may cause the corks to deteriorate over time, so keep your red wines somewhere else and place bottles in the fridge only a few hours before serving to obtain the required serving temperature.
If you have a specialised wine fridge, the conditions will have been created to protect your wine over the long term (months, years and even decades) and red wines can be stored in a wine fridge for a longer amount of time.
Related red wine articles:
Best Red Wine Styles To Chill
- Lighter red wine types of Pinot Noir
- Gamay and Beaujolais if you can get them from South Africa or Oregon.
- The famous Loire Valley Cabernet Franc
- Valpolicella Classico or wines made with Corvina grapes
Should You Ever Try To Chill a Full-Bodied Red Wine?
For red wines, a temperature above 18°C will make the flavour sloppy and will make the alcohol highly noticeable.
Chilling the wine allows the flavour to be more focused and makes the alcohol less noticeable which makes the wine more refreshing and enjoyable.
Summary of Chilling Red Wine From Expert Wine Storage
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