In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of chilled wines. There are different questions that we will try to answer throughout this article, including: “What wine should be chilled?” “Are there specific temperatures to which different wines should be served?” “Does the temperature affect the wine taste?” And of course, we will not forget to answer the most infamous question that has been troubling wine drinkers since forever: “Can you drink red wine when chilled?”
Due to the different chemicals compositions that wines have, not all wines should be chilled at the same temperature. As a matter of fact, depending on the wine’s components, different temperatures can mute or emphasize the wine smell and taste.
We all know the general rules that say: whites and rosé are meant to be drank chilled while red at room temperature. But is that really true? Is red wine good cold?
For starters, sparkling wines should be served ice cold at a temperature between 4.5°C to 10°C. You can put the wine bottle in the freezer for a maximum of one hour before the estimated serving time. If you do decide to put the bottle in the freezer, be careful to not forget it in for too long otherwise there will be an explosion waiting for you in the end!
Another way you can chill your sparkling if you are in a rush is by putting the wine bottle in a bucket full of ice for 30 minutes. The reason why sparkling wines should be served cold is that the cold temperature at which you chill your sparkling wines will help to keep the bubbles fine rather than foamy. Of course, after the bottle has been opened to maintain the cold temperature place it on ice. Nevertheless, be careful to not serve the sparkling wine too cold as you would not be able to taste the nutty crispiness that many types of sparkling have.
White Wines & Rosés
Meanwhile, white wines and rosés should be served cold, at a temperature between 10°C and 15.5°C.
Specifically, dry whites are better served at 7°C as the flavours and aromas can come through while the acidity will give the wine crispiness to the finish without being too overpowering. Usually, the best way to keep chill these wines is by placing them in the fridge right after buying them, but if you bought the bottle the same day, you could still put your bottle in the freezer for 30 minutes. Unlike sparkling wines, with the whites and rosés, after you open the bottle there is no need to place it on ice as they are better to be left ‘sweating’ on the table as this will allow the wine’s taste and character to change with the increase in temperature.
Can You Chill Red Wine?
It’s often said that with red wines, they should be drunk at room temperature; however, this is not completely true! So, can you drink red wine when chilled?
As a matter of fact, red wines are better to be served cool, between 15.5°C and 21°C. When you drink a red wine that is too warm, there is a risk that you will be left with a thick taste of oak in your mouth and smell of alcohol. So, the answer to the question: ‘Is red wine good cold?’ is yes. When the red wine reaches its right cool temperature, it will allow you to experience all its hidden layers of flavour. The co-chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards, Sarah Jane Evans MW in regard to the question if red wines should be chilled or not said that as a general rule red wines that are cheaper and simpler should be served chilled.
Can you drink full-body red wine chilled? The answer is yes, but only sometimes. For example, full-body wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz needs to be served not too warm, otherwise the flavour would become soupy and blurry. While when chilled, the flavours come more into focus, alcohol is less noticeable, and the wine is more refreshing to drink. Generally, placing the bottle in the fridge for one hour before serving time should be enough, otherwise it is possible to just place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. After opening it you can leave the wine to decant or serve the first glass and similarly to whites and rosés, we can leave the bottle on the table to slowly sweat.
Planning is necessary when we talk about chilling wines. If you do know you will be drinking wine and it needs to be chilled, you should remember to put the wine in the fridge at least one or two hours before the expected use. The optimal fridge temperature to chill your wine should be between 1.5°C and 4.5°C.
Nevertheless, there are different chilling methods, some are more hazardous and messier than others.
The most common and likely favourite way of chilling wines is by using the freezer. This mainly happens when we find ourselves in a rush and we just want our wine to get chilled fast. The problem with this method, is the day after you’ve forgotten that you have left your precious bottle of wine in the freezer, and you are greeted by an icy explosion. Indeed, the quality of the wine does not change if put in the freezer, but the chances of a mess increase. In fact, when the water contained in the wine freezes it expands and it may push the cork out or crack the bottle. So, if you intend to use the freezer and would like to avoid a mess, set a timer for 30 minutes.
There is another way that allows you to chill wine quickly and this is by putting the wine bottle in an icy salt bath. What you need to do is grab a bucket add water, ice, and salt. What happens is that the temperature will go down because the ice will absorb the heat that is found in the water and the salt will bring the freezing point below 0°C.
Another chilling method is to use ice cubes but with the risk of diluting your drink so in this case it is preferred to use reusable ice cubes. If it’s only one glass of wine that you need to chill, you can choose to just put the glass directly in the fridge as it will take less time to chill than the entire bottle. Meanwhile, if you are on the go, you can use an insulated bag to keep your wine cool, for example, you may use a sleeve that has been kept in the freezer to chill a wine bottle of 750ml.
Another important aspect to think about when serving wines especially chilled ones is the temperature of the glass. Something that happens a lot is when a glass in which you will be serving wine is warmer than what you would like. When you are serving a white or sparkling wine you should chill your wine glass for around 10 minutes before serving and you should use glasses with stems so the person can use the stem to hold the glass without risking touching it and warming the temperature of the wine. Meanwhile, for reds, you can use both glasses that have stems and that do not. In particular, if you use a stemmed glass, you will avoid your red becoming too warm. To maintain the right temperature for the reds you should only chill the glass for a short period, between 2 to 5 minutes.
If you’d like to learn more about the ins and outs of chilling your red wine, get in touch with our friendly team. Alternatively, if you’d like to give chilling your next bottle of red a go, we strongly recommend doing so with one of the delightful bottles made here at Verwood Estate. Try our sparkling shiraz rosé, 2019 shiraz rosé, or special reserve cabernet sauvignon today!