FoodThe Right Red Wine Temperature Is Cooler Than You Think
There's an ideal temperature for your champagne
Just when I was bragging to my friend about my bottle-opening prowess. A mini-champagne volcano erupted, and I was at a loss as to what I had done wrong. Horrified by my own ineptitude, and on the brink of the biggest sparkling-wine weeks of the year, I had to find out: What had I done wrong? And short of opening my bubbly with a saber, how could I prevent this catastrophe from happening as I prepared to ring in 2019? Bob Hemaeur, owner of Cork ‘N Bottle in Madison, Wisconsin, assured me that the fault may not have been with me, but with the temperature of the bottle.
Visualize your refrigerator. (No, this isn’t a breathwork exercise, we promise.) Now visualize your bar cart. Where in all of this does your red wine sit? We won’t judge: We’re here to help. If the red wine in your mind is sitting on your, channel your inner Matilda—you know, when she moves the pencil with her mind—but instead of moving a pencil, you’re moving those bottles to your refrigerator. Why? Because you’re probably serving your red wine way too warm. And, to be honest, you're probably way better off just keeping it in the fridge.
For whatever reason, a lot of people seem to think that the ideal red wine temperature is—white wine belongs in the fridge, sure, but red wine belongs in...the room. But room temperature is typically around 70 degrees, and the ideal serving temperature for red wine is anywhere between 60 and 68 degrees. So, yeah: room temp is no bueno. But don't let those numbers throw you off. We’re not asking you to get an out and stick it into your wine bottle—that would be weird. This should be pretty intuitive stuff. You know what room temperature feels like because, chances are, you’re currently in...a room. And your red wine should taste and feel at least a little bit cooler than that. That's not so hard, is it?
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Why worry about temperature so much? Well, when red wine is right below room temperature, you’ll be exposed to the best possible version of thethat wine presents. Too-warm wine will often present sweeter and spicier, which can be overpowering, especially when served with food. But, also, red wine with a slight chill on it is just...more fun to drink. It's more and drinkable. And we're all for that.
At this point you’re probably saying, “Okay, so how do I get my red wine to this magical just-below-room-temperature spot?? Sounds complicated!” To which I will respond: Just put it in the fridge, bud!
You shouldn’t be afraid to throw your wine in the fridge. If you sling a room temp bottle in there for about an hour, it'll probably be close to where you want it to be on the other side. But honestly, we're big fans of just storing our red wine in the fridge all of the time—that way we can just take a bottle out about a half hour before we want to drink it to let it come up to the ideal temperature. It's just easier! I mean, if you're the kind of fancy person who keeps dozens of bottles around that you're planning on aging patiently for many years, the fridge is not the place to do it. But chances are you're buying wine that you're going to drink in the next week or so, and if you keep it in theit'll be ready whenever you are.
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