Whites chilled and reds at room temperature, right? Sounds simple enough. And, to be fair, it used to be that simple.
Unfortunately, the “whites chilled and reds at room” rule doesn’t translate well to 21st-century living, which is climate-controlled (and, unfortunately, doesn’t contain as many cellars). So, to make sure you’re getting the most out of your favorite reds, here are three things to remember.
(1) Most reds that are served too cold (under 57° F) will present harshly, including a damaged mouthfeel, due to exaggerated tannins and polyphenols. Too warm (over 65° F) and they tend to be dominated in the head space by alcohol, which will mask flavor nuances.
(2) It’s always easier to warm your red in the glass than to get it back down to its proper serving temp, so we recommend preserving at around 55° F and leaving time for the wine to arrive at ideal serving temp, whether in the bottle or in the glass.
(3) The main reason room temperature isn’t ideal for reds is that while temperature is important, temperature stability actually makes all the difference. Temperature fluctuations cause wine to expand and contract, which allows bouquet to escape through the cork and oxygen to enter, both of which result in a diminished red. Temperature is important, but without consistency, you’ll have an unbalanced wine.
So when it comes to the old adage of serving reds at room temp, remember that rooms are warmer now than they used to be, and room temperature fluctuates. What doesn’t fluctuate is a precise wine cabinet and the sensation of a perfectly preserved, perfectly balanced, perfectly cool red.