Wine and refrigeration

Wine typically drinks best at five-to-thirty degrees cooler than you keep your home temperature, and five-to-twenty-five degrees warmer than your home refrigerator. What do you do to get your wine to the proper temperature?

Sparkling wines are best cold—40º to 45ºF. Your refrigerator likely is 40º or slightly cooler, so you are good pouring Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Sekt out of the fridge.

Light, dry white wines and white dessert wines are best in the 45º-49ºF, so pull the bottles out of the fridge 15-30 minutes before pouring. Rosés are best between 48-53ºF, leave them out slightly longer.

Full-bodied whites—chardonnay, albariño, trebbiano, viognier—are best at 50-55º; the less oaky the wine, the closer to 50º it should be served, while oakier whites are better at 55º.

Medium-bodied reds—pinot noir, Côtes du Rhône, Beaujolais, Chianti, Valpolicella—are best at 54-60ºF. If you start at room temperature, give them 45-60 minutes in the fridge. When poured too warm, fruit flavors can be tart and acidic.

Full-bodied reds—cabernet sauvignon, syrah/shiraz, merlot, tempranillo, malbec—are best at 60-65ºF. When served warm, alcohol can dominate, while proper temperature delivers rounded tannins and balancing acidity, along with lushness. Give them 30 minutes or so in the fridge.

Fortified wines—Port, Madeira, sherry. Tawny Ports and fino sherries are best at 57-60ºF, while vintage Ports and Madeiras are best around 65ºF.

There are some quick fixes: Chill a bottle using a mix of ice and cold water. The combination works faster than ice alone. You also can put the bottle in your freezer, usually about 20 minutes will do the trick, slightly longer for the wines served best at lowest temperatures, but don’t forget the bottle. Freezing damages wine, causing fruit notes to vanish. Flavors will not return when it thaws and the wine will exhibit bitter flavors and the astringent taste of alcohol.

If your wine is too cold and you are in a hurry, speed the process by decanting into a container rinsed in hot water, or put the bottle in a bucket of warm water.

All these maneuvers are intended to maximize the enjoyment of your wine, but if you enjoy wine at room temperature without all the fuss, go right ahead. Just know wine temperature influences wine taste.

Last round: Wine is like pouring smiles and wisdom into your brain.