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.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Why are some wines chilled and some not? When I go to restaurants I see that some are kept in a cooler and some are kept on the counter or a shelf.
—Ruben, Austin, Texas
Many restaurants serve—and many people drink—white wines chilled and red wines at room temperature. So, I’m guessing that what you usually see are the white wines in the cooler and the reds on the counter or shelf.
While that can work for most of the people most of the time, some of us wine geeks are concerned about drinking our whites too cold and our reds too warm to have them show their best. I prefer whites from about 40 to 50 degrees F, which is warmer than your typical refrigerator but cooler than a typical wine cellar. If whites are too cold, their flavors seem muted. I think reds show best in the 60 to 65 degree range, a bit cooler than most room temperatures. Too warm, and a red wine’s alcohol is emphasized and its flavors can seem dull.
I think you’ll see that restaurants with the best wine service take these sorts of details into account, and instead of red wines on display on top of a counter, they’re resting in temperature-controlled storage. Check out our Restaurant Search for nearly 3,800 award-winning restaurants worldwide.
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