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.
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°. (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°. (Another five minutes should do it.) This goes for dry or sweet.
Champagnes are at their best cold: chill these to around 45°.
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