Go Ahead, Chill A Red Wine


Most of us were told that white wine should be chilled and reds should be served at room temperature. After all, the refreshing acid comes out when you chill white wine. Now, we typically serve the reds at room temperature to reduce the grainy tannins. The result is a smoother and richer wine. However, now and then, we can break the rules and still get satisfying results. So, despite conventional practice, you might still ask, “Should I chill red wine?”

Well, yes, you can. However, it still depends on various factors that we’ll discuss in this blog post.

Understand the Basics First

Even if you plan to break the rules in serving and storing red wine, you should still learn about the basics to avoid spoiling the drink. Understanding this will let you know if certain rules are bendable. You need to look into the recommended serving temperatures for white and red wine. However, once you dive into the process, you will learn that every variety tastes better with their ideal temperature. Keep in mind that not all red wine is created equal.

Under the reds and whites are subcategories that pertain to the body of the wine. Basically, the body depends on how the wine feels in the mouth—whether it is light and thin or heavy and thick. As may have guessed, the body usually correlates to the wine’s alcohol content. In general, grape varieties fall under the following body categories:

  • Full Body – Over 13.5% alcohol content (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Red Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Shiraz)
  • Medium Body – Between 12% and 13.5% alcohol content (Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Roja, and various Spanish blended reds)
  • Light Body – Below 12% alcohol content (Chianti, Barbera, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolai)

Now, the general rule of thumb is that the fuller the wine body, the warmer you should serve it. Full-bodied red wine tastes best in room temperature (64 to 65 degrees). For some, this may seem a little cool. After all, a lot of people prefer room temperatures that range between 68 to 75 degrees. So, what you consider ‘room temperature’ wine should be colder than what you’ve been led to believe.

When Should You Chill Red Wine?

After learning about the basics of wine body and serving temperature, we can get into the specifics. Before serving your reds, you should set your fridge to the ideal temperature for the body of wine you have.

Here’s a guideline:

  • Fully Body – 64 to 65 degrees
  • Medium Body – 60 to 62 degrees
  • Light Body – 55 to 60 degrees

Sommeliers recommend chilling light-bodied reds a tad bit before you serve them. Ideally, you can serve them straight out of the wine fridge or cellar. Within your first few sips, you will notice how they start to warm towards the ideal temperature range.

Now, if you’re going to enjoy full-bodied and medium-bodied reds, you must let them sit out of storage for a bit until they warm up a few degrees. They taste better when you serve them within the 60-degree range. Wine experts suggest leaving the bottles on the table or bar for 30 minutes before you serve them. On the other hand, if you have a dual-zone wine fridge, you can easily adjust the temperature to the serving standard a couple of hours before you consume the bottles.

You can try consuming reds a bit cooler than the temperatures we recommended. If you enjoyed the results, then you might want to consider red wine varieties that are ideal for serving chilled. It can be a refreshing experience to drink cool reds in the summer.

Easy Tips for Chilling Red Wine

Now, we understand that not everyone has a wine cellar or a dual-zone wine fridge. Fret not because there are still some ways you can chill your reds to the ideal temperature.

Here are some tips:

  • Ice Bath – You can fill a bucket with water and ice. Add salt, then let the wine sit in the bucket for ten minutes. You can touch-test the bottle to ensure that it won’t get too cold.
  • Refrigerate – Let the bottle sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes before you serve it. Using the freezer should not be an option because the wine gets too cold, too fast. Abrupt temperature changes are not good for the wine’s flavor.
  • Cold Stream – If you brought a bottle of red wine to your campsite, look for a cold stream. Dip it in the water for a couple of minutes to get it to the ideal serving temperature.
  • Ice Cube – We know that this is a sacrilegious offence for wine connoisseurs.

However, this is a last resort if you don’t have other means of cooling down a glass of red. You can drop a cube or two, then pluck them out after a minute so the water won’t dilute the taste of the wine.

If you want to get some recommendations for reds that are perfect for chilling, do not hesitate to contact Arthur Cantina Wine & Liquor at (718) 295-9119. We have a wide collection of medium- and light-bodied reds that are ideal for serving cold.


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