Why It’s Actually Good to Chill Red Wine, According to an Expert

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If you’re like me (and most people), you’ve always heard that red wine should be served at room temperature. That said…the temperature isn’t the same in every room. Even in the same room, the temperature will vary depending on the time of year, or even the time of day.

The way to balance this out and get the most consistent flavor from your favorite red, it turns out, is to let it spend a little time chilling in the fridge.


Expert Ian Ferrier weighed in on how long and and how cold for Lifehacker.com, and here is some of his advice.

First up, if you’re not sure how cold to go, err on the side of colder, not warmer.


“Each wine has its own specific ideal temperature range but generally you want to lean on the cooler end of things than the warmer,” explained Ferrier, “because it’s always nice to drink a wine that’s warming up.” In terms of degrees, “you always want your reds at least in the 60- to 70-degree range. The main reason you don’t want a wine warmer than that is that the aromatics start to shift and the sensation of alcohol starts to take over when you stick your nose in the glass. You especially don’t want a warmer big red wine that tends to have a higher alcohol content. In general, think of it like drinking a warm Pabst versus an ice cold one. You taste different things and the mouthfeel is different.”

The lighter red you’ve chosen, the colder you can go.


“Generally,” explained Ferrier, “you can cool lighter reds even more, down to traditional white service temps [49-55℉]. You don’t want a big red to get this cold because, among other things, chilling the wine can increase the sensation of tannic structure and can make a wine bitter and sharp. With a lighter red it can brighten the acidity, enhance the structure and show off more floral aromatics. Every wine is different and has its own sweet spot.”

Bubbles love the ice cold.


“As far as sparkling reds go, the wine itself generally follows the same principle as far as aromatics, structure, etc., but the big difference is the carbon dioxide in solution,” Ferrier told me. “If your wine is cold, the carbon dioxide stays in solution well and you get excellent fine bubbles, if it’s room temp your bottle probably will explode a little when you open it. Aside from that, it’s like a warm soda versus a cold soda— the carbonation is rough and unpleasant. The wine might be nice as it warms up, but at the point of opening a traditional ‘champagne style’ cork, you want an ice-cold wine.”

Go ahead and try it, see what you think! Either way, you get to drink some wine, so it’s a win-win!