When pouring then drinking and ultimately enjoying a particular red wine - the 'serving temperature' is not always a matter of personal preference. As red wines and in particular, specific red varietals and winemaking techniques need to be served and expressed at the ideal temperature to best enjoy and appreciate the unique nuances, characteristic, flavours and qualities of the wine in question.
Unintentionally and unaware many people tend to drink red wines too warm. Typically because most people serve their reds at the ambient room temperature (which can be on the warm side, depending on the time of year and your definition of room temperature). For red wines, you typically want them warmer than a cellar or wine-cabinet temperature.
Which can be between 13°-15°C, but cooler than most room temperatures which can be 22° to 23°C. Also keep in mind that a wine served cool will warm up in your glass, while a wine served warm will only get warmer. A good range for serving red wines is 13°-18°C. Lighter and more lifted fruit style red wines (e.g. Beaujolais and lighter style Pinot Noirs) should be served towards the low-end of the range. More full bodied and higher tannin red wines (e.g. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon) should be served at the warmer end of the range.
When you hear or use the old saying (adage) - red wine is best served at room temperature. What you are actually referring to is the room temperature as it was in Europe pre 1920’s - as this was before insulation and central heating, so most homes were at 15°-18°C.
Today many home dining rooms can easily be at around 23°C - and when the temperature gets up to 25°C, red wine will start to lose its finesse and freshness - and move towards an overpowering sensation of alcohol. This is why I suggest you give your red wines some time to cool down in the home fridge before opening and serving. Depending upon the starting temperature but from 25°C you can work with 15-20 min - (note: I would not suggest the freezer, as accidents can happen when forgotten). Of course, if you store your wine in a wine cabinet at a cellaring temperature (13-14°C), this is not necessary: just take it out 20-30 minutes prior to opening and serving. If you are in doubt of the wines actual temperature, it is always better to serve your reds slightly cooler, as you can always warm up the glass in the palms of your hand. If you don’t have a wine cabinet - I would encourage you to invest in a thermometer/ humidity gauge for the room, cupboard or wine rack where you store your wines.
Don’t feel bad if you regularly purchase a bottle of red wine on the way home and you open it straight away with friends or family - many wine drinkers have been doing this for their entire wine drinking existence. Almost everyone has served a red wine too warm.
At the ideal serving temperatures for different red grape varietals and styles of wines, the wine will be more aromatic, the fruit and palate flavours will be bright and fresh, and the wine’s texture will be full and engaging and the wine will appear in balance - as all the components in a light, medium of full-bodied style wine will be in harmony.
The problem with serving a red wine that is too warm is that the influence of the alcohol will be over emphasized which ultimately makes the wine seem flat and dull. Serving red wine too cold, on the other hand, inhibits the aromas and flavours to the extent where the tannins in the wine become overwhelming. This will result in the wine seeming more astringent and aggressive on the palate.
Not serving your favourite red wine at the ideal temperature is such a waste - as you spend good money on a quality red wine - but not enjoying it simply because it was served at the wrong temperature. This is why it is so important to get the serving temperature just right for the wine in question.
The best temperature to drink your wine at will always depend on the style of red wine. Full bodied red wines will generally have a higher tannin content (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon) should generally be served warmer than light to medium-bodied wines that have a less tannins. A wine with higher tannins should be served slightly warmer (e.g. 16-18°C). This will ensure that the varietal aromas and flavours can be released which will have a significant positive impression and will improve your taste experience. Conversely, wines with less tannins should be served slightly cooler because there is less risk for the tannins to become overwhelming. A slightly lower temperature will also soften the alcohol component allowing you to more thoroughly enjoy the subtle, more delicate characters in the wine. For more information on ideal serving temperatures - Click Here.