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,
I've noticed a big difference in the way a red wine tastes at room temperature vs. when it's chilled. I prefer my reds on the warmer side. How can I serve my reds at a temperature I like if my house is cold?
—Juliet, Peterborough, U.K.
I agree that if wines are served too cold, their flavors and aromas can be suppressed. Of course, when they are too warm, they can seem overly alcoholic and flat.
So what’s the Goldilocks temperature for serving wine? Your own preference should be your guide, but the gerneral concensus among wine experts is that white wines show their best from about 40° to 50° F (or 5 to 10° C), while red wines are ideal at around 60° to 65° F (16 to 18° C).
If you’re pulling a wine out of a cellar (where it should be about 55° F/12° C), it takes about 30 to 60 minutes for it to warm up to an ideal temperature in most situations. But if your house is on the cold side and you want to speed that up, you can run it under warm (not hot!) water or put it in a warm bath for a bit. Or, pour it into a decanter. Or do both—put the wine in a decanter and then put the decanter in a warm bath.
There are some people who like to use a microwave to warm up wine, which can be a bit aggressive—you have to make sure you don’t overheat the wine. Never put a sealed container in there, nor any metal parts. I’d recommend pouring the wine into a microwave-safe glass or measuring cup and heat in increments of 5 seconds. You may already know this, but microwaves don’t heat beverages uniformly, so give the wine a stir or a swirl before taking a sip.