Is it correct that white wines should be served chilled, and reds should be served at room temperature?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it correct that when serving white wines they should be served chilled, and when serving reds they should be served at room temperature?

—Terrance J., High Point, N.C.

Dear Terrance,

Serving temperatures are really a matter of personal preference, but most people seem to like their whites chilled and their reds at room temperature. Many connoisseurs think that Americans in particular tend to drink our whites too cold and our reds too warm. I bet that's because most folks chill their whites in the refrigerator (where they can get cold enough to suppress a wine's aromatics) and serve their reds at the ambient room temperature (which can be a bit on the warm side, depending on your definition of "room temperature").

More specifically, I think whites show their best anywhere from about 40 to 50 degrees F (the lighter-bodied whites at the colder end of the spectrum, the fuller-bodied whites at the warmer end). To give you some perspective, most food refrigerators are around 35 or 40 degrees F. So think of serving whites a bit cooler than a wine cellar, but warmer than a refrigerator.

For reds, you would typically want them warmer than cellar temperature, but still a bit cooler than most room temperatures—say, 60 to 65 degrees F. Also keep in mind that a wine served cool will warm up in the glass, while a wine served warm will only get warmer. Above all, let your own preferences be your guide.

—Dr. Vinny

Serving Wine Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Do Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Burgundy improve with age?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny consults Burgundy expert Bruce Sanderson on how long to …

Apr 6, 2020

If red meat goes with red wine, what about plant-based “meat”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny asks food-and-wine pairing master Harvey Steiman for tips …

Apr 3, 2020

Is it OK to store potatoes and other vegetables in my wine cellar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny consults Idaho's Dr. Potato on storing potatoes in a wine …

Apr 1, 2020

Which grapes are used in the sparkling wine Blanquette de Limoux?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from associate editor Gillian Sciaretta, …

Mar 30, 2020

Should I sip wine with food in my mouth to appreciate a wine-and-food pairing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that enjoying wine and food together is all …

Mar 27, 2020

In wine and grapevines, what’s the difference between a “clone” and a “selection”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny calls in vine expert Carole Meredith to explain how a …

Mar 25, 2020