ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I recognize that most people would recommend a serving temperature for red wine to be 55 to 60 degrees F, or cellar temperature. However, for some younger wines that require significant decanting time, is it acceptable to allow the wine to come to room temperature, or should the decanter be put on ice to allow for the most ideal tasting experience?

—Steve, Clarington, Ontario

Dear Steve,

It really depends on how warm the room is. I think most reds show best when they’re at, say, 65 degrees F or so—a little warmer than cellar temperature. That usually means taking them out of a 55-degree cellar about an hour ahead of time, unless it’s really warm out. If you want to decant a wine more than an hour before serving (and assuming you don’t have a shelf in your cellar to sit the decanter on), then yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to put the decanter on ice.

I usually don’t fret much about decanting, especially since I know my wine-geek friends like to experience a wine’s evolution in the glass. For wines that I think would benefit from decanting, I might pour a taste soon after the bottle was opened or decanted and then revisit it later, so we can talk about how the wine has changed.

—Dr. Vinny


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