After posting last Sunday that I tend to drink most red and white wines at about the same temperature and that I tend to cool red wines in a refrigerator, I was asked about best serving temperatures. To be sure of providing credible information — or else to verify that “experts” have wide-ranging disagreements, I turned to two respected references.
Using Cabernet Sauvignon as an example, the guide published by the Superstore Wine and More suggests serving it at temperatures between 58 and 60 degrees Farenheit. The second edition of the “Wine Lover’s Companion” recommends 45 to 50 degrees.
The store would have us drink light-bodied Chardonnays at 48 to 53 degrees, the Companion 45 – 50 for “medium quality,” 50 to 55 for “premium quality.” They agree that Champagnes are at their best between 40 and 45 degrees, though the Companion would recommend 45 to 50 degrees for the “best” Champagnes.
I point this out, in part to justify my own habit of similar temperatures for most table wines, but mostly to explain that temperature is as much a matter of taste as it is correctness except when talking about extremes. Just about everyone knows that letting your wine get up to 70 degrees or higher is likely to do irreparable damage, but that excessive cold won’t harm the wine much, if at all, if left to warm up gradually.
Most also agree that once opened, a bottle, corked or sealed tightly and kept in a refrigerator may stay palatable for two or three days. The trick is to keep it cool and air out of contact with the wine.
Both my sources agree that sweet wines should be served cooler than dry wine but not by much. The store suggests 62 to 65 degrees for Port and Eiswein, the Companion would lower those temperatures to 50 to 55.
After pointing out these rather wide-ranging differences between two popular reference works, I rested my own case and urged my questioner to continue her inquiries.