Should White Wine Be Chilled or at Room Temperature?


Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a frequent entertainer, knowing how to properly serve wine is important. When it comes to getting the most out of wines, white is a little trickier to serve than red, which in most cases is fine straight from the bottle at room temperature. As a rule of thumb, white wine should always be chilled to make the most of its combinations of flavors and aromas.

Benefits of Chilling

  • The general rule is to serve white wine chilled. Giving a bottle a slight chill is the easiest way to best enjoy the complexities and range of flavors in white wine. Whether its notes are citrus, fruity or floral, you'll be able to taste them all when the wine is served at the right temperature. Beverage website provides a chart of the recommended temperatures at which to serve various types of white wine. The chart says that Pinot grigio, Soave, Chablis and inexpensive sparkling wine should be served between 39 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit. For Riesling, rose, Champagne and Sauvignon blanc, opt for 43 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Chardonnay, Viognier, white rioja, and Gewürztraminer call for the warmest temperatures, between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid Overchilling

  • Many people overchill white wine. In The Pour, a "New York Times" wine-centric blog, writer Eric Asimov penned a post titled "Not So Cold...Doctor's Order." In it, Asimov said, "...drinking overchilled white wine --- good white wine --- deprives one of fully enjoying the complex aromas and delicious flavors in the glass." Asimov goes on to explain that raising the temperature of wine allows flavor compounds to evaporate and rise, bringing them closer to the surface of the wine and the rim of the glass ... and your palate. Solve this dilemma by storing wine at room temperature and dipping it into a bucket of ice water or ice when you're ready to serve it. If you don't have a champagne or wine bucket, sticking it in the fridge for about 10 minutes will work, too. This method is faster than storing it in the refrigerator and letting it come up to room temperature, which Asimov says could take up to 45 minutes.

Wine Dining

  • Asimov offers a few suggestions about how to get the most out of your white wine when dining out. When ordering a bottle, ask the waiter to forgo the ice bucket. Allowing the bottle to rest on the table will let it reach its fullest potential. If a sommelier or waiter does bring an ice bucket, fret not; if you're settling in for a lingering meal, you may want that ice to bring the wine back to its original chilled state. Allowing it to rest at room temperature for long periods of time has the same effect as serving it too cold; it loses some of the intended flavorful notes.

When You're a Guest

  • When you're a party guest, etiquette trumps proper wine temperature. If the host serves you wine that's been sitting in the refrigerator for quite some time, it's rude to request that it be warmed. Of course, if the host asks your opinion, you can always suggest letting it sit on the counter to warm. If you are at a party or social event and you're served a glass of white that's too cold, wrap your hands around the bowl of the glass for a few minutes. The warmth of your hands will bring the wine up to the right temperature range, or close to it, and you'll be able to enjoy it fully without offending the host.

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