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

If most vines are grafted onto rootstocks, why do some grapevines thrive in soils where others struggle?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from U.C. Davis' viticulture department, …

Jul 1, 2020

What does “buttery” mean when talking about Chardonnay?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where "buttery" flavors come from in wine.

Jun 29, 2020

Are French oak barrels for aging wine made from white oak or red oak?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why white oak is the preferred wood for aging …

Jun 26, 2020

Are freezable tumblers OK for drinking a glass of rosé or white wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how freezable plastic tumblers keep beverages …

Jun 24, 2020

What’s the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which grapes are used in France's Bordeaux and …

Jun 22, 2020

How do wine critics review wines that aren’t ready to drink?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how experienced critics assess a young wine's …

Jun 19, 2020