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Should Wine Glasses be Chilled or Not? (Facts & Cautions)

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Behind closed doors, we all have our unique preferences for the ideal temperature of wine including whether or not to chill the glass. But when it’s time to throw on your best face and serve up an elegant evening for your friends, you probably would like to know the rules when it comes to chilling your wine glasses. 

To answer the question of whether or not wine glasses should be chilled, let’s take a look at why you would chill your wine glass in the first place. This is because when a wine is too cold, many of its precious notes, flavors, and scents are muted. On the other hand, a wine that is too warm can accentuate certain flavors that will overpower the sip. 

Read on for the scoop on “to chill, or not to chill”. If you’re scratching your head over whether to chill a glass of red wine or white wine, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know to serve up wine at just the right temperature for the glass and avoid an embarrassing wine faux pas.

Should Wine Glasses be Chilled
Should Wine Glasses be Chilled

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Why People Chill Wine Glasses

The reason die-hard wine drinkers would think about chilling their wine glasses is about the wine serving temperature and the fact that the temperature of the liquid and the glass both dramatically affect the taste and experience of the wine. As mentioned above, a wine that is too cold won’t taste right! 

That being said, a wine that is too warm won’t taste good either. 

In Europe where wine cellars or dedicated wine cabinets are common, oenophiles (wine enthusiasts) drink their wine at whatever temperature the cellar happens to be. In most cases – and ideally – this is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius.

This means they don’t usually chill the glass, because typically the temperatures are already optimized for the wines. 

In the United States, however, wine drinkers tend toward whatever’s convenient if they’re not blessed with a wine cellar. White wines are often kept in the refrigerator while red wines are stored on the countertop at room temperature.

This means Americans will be more likely to chill their wine glasses (especially for red wine) since room temperature can actually be too warm for the wine. 

TIP: I wrote this great article on how to store wine with a cork that you will certainly learn from. To learn how to store wine without a cork, then this article will be your resource.

Should Wine Glasses be Chilled

In most cases, your wine glasses are going to be warmer than you want to serve your wine. As we said, a dramatic temperature difference can quickly change the temperature – and therefore the experience – of your wine.

If you’re serving a bottle of sparkling or white wine, chill your wine glasses for about 10 minutes before serving. Use glasses with stems so the person enjoying the wine can hold the glass without his or her hand warming the cup. While reds can be served in stemless glasses, using a stemmed glass will keep your red from becoming too warm. Chill the glasses in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 minutes.

This will be enough to maintain that perfect red temperature.

No one can say what the ideal wine temperature is because this is a somewhat subjective subject! If you noticed different flavors in your wine coming through at different temperatures, then you will easily find what works best for you in terms of chilling your wine glasses. 

Wine Glasses for White Wine

If you prefer dry whites or sweet, rich whites, you are not alone. But, surprisingly, there’s a different glass temperature protocol for each. With a dry white, you’ll want to serve it at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

At this temperature, the aromatics and flavors can come through while the acidity gives it a crispness to the finish without becoming overpowering.

Sweet, rich wines should be served slightly warmer at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Any warmer and the sweetness of the wine will overshadow the mineral qualities.

You can chill white wine in the refrigerator for about two hours or in the freezer for 20 minutes. To make sure your white is perfectly ready for your enjoyment, use a wine thermometer that doubles as a beautiful bottle opener.

TIP: To learn how to store white wine after opening, check out this article I wrote. To discover if wine fridges are only for storing white wine, check out this complete guide I wrote. And for a complete breakdown of how to store wine long-term in 8 simple steps, you need to read this guide I wrote.

Wine Glasses for Red Wine

Red wines are perhaps the trickiest to get to the optimal temperature. Drinking a red when it’s too warm can leave you with a thick taste of oak on your tongue. And, all you’re likely to smell is alcohol. This is why it is important to use the right glass of red wine at the correct temperature. 

Serve up your red at the perfect 65 to 68 degree Fahrenheit range and you’ll get to experience all the complex layers of flavor hidden in that dark beauty.

Rather than leaving your red wines out on the counter, put them in the refrigerator for 40 minutes or in the freezer for 6 minutes before popping the cork. Even better keep a wine glass slightly chilled and the red wine won’t get too warm. 

Wine Glasses for Sparkling Wine

When it comes to wine glasses for sparkling wine, this will be the most popular option for chilling your glass.

Traditionally delivered and served from an ice bucket, sparkling wines are often served colder than their non-bubbly siblings. The ideal temperature for sparkling wines is between 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, you don’t want your sparkling too cold or you won’t be able to experience the unique nutty crispness hidden in many great sparkling varieties.

To get it there, toss a room temperature bottle in your refrigerator for about two and a half hours or in the freezer for about 25 minutes.

Then set the bottle on the table for just a couple of minutes before opening it. For an even better sparkling wine experience, chill the glass in the freezer for a few minutes. 

TIP: If you are interested in storing Champagne properly, these are some of the very best wine refrigerators rated for Champagne available. You really should check it out so you know all the facts.

How Do You Chill Wine Glasses

If you’re serving a bottle of sparkling or white wine, chill your glasses for about 10 minutes before serving.

Chill red wine glasses in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 minutes which will be just enough to maintain that perfect red temperature. As mentioned above, in most cases, your wine glasses are going to be warmer than you want to serve your wine. 

A dramatic temperature difference can quickly change the temperature – and therefore the experience – of your wine.

While reds can be served in stemless glasses, using a stemmed glass will keep your red from becoming too warm. Use glasses with stems so the person enjoying the wine can hold the glass without his or her hand warming the cup.

TIP: A critical aspect of keeping wine for long periods is the correct temperature and humidity. Check out this complete guide on how to control humidity in the wine fridge and the most common reason why your wine cooler is not cooling in this article.

Conclusion

Wine is a peculiar beverage. Serving it in different glasses and at different temperatures can change the way it tastes. Knowing the basics of serving wine and picking glassware and the temperature of your glassware ensures that your wine will taste the best it possibly can.

Hopefully, you’ve already experienced how wildly different your coffee, tea, or soda (lukewarm Coke anyone?) tastes at different temperatures.

This same ideology applies to wine. Also, some of the more delicate floral aromatics in fine wines are completely subdued at overly cool temperatures or burn off too quickly when the wine is too warm.

As you have learned in the above article, the choice to chill your wine glass depends on the type of wine you are drinking and how that wine has been stored (and at what temperature). Have fun experimenting with what works for you, and enjoy! 

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