To chill or not to chill?

Having given a response to another thread an mentioning chilling, I thought it might be useful to start a discussion on this.
So often labels state that a wine is best chilled. This is so often interpreted as ‘straight out of the fridge’. Years ago in Germany I was told that the chilling of white wine idea was a marketing ploy at the Blue Nun generation to mask the taste of the somewhat inferior wines being exported. When I did my WSET it was suggested that the best way to taste sparklers is to let it go flat, and taste at room temperature.
As a matter of personal preference, I serve/drink white wines at about 9degrees…cool but not chilled…and reds at about 14.
This enables the volatiles to come out and for a richer drinking experience.
Cold stuns the taste buds, and suppresses the nose.


I think that approach also makes sense as the wine in the glass does not get too warm too fast.

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We tend to serve most whites between 9 and 11 degrees; this seems to work well for the aromatics, as well as oaked whites, white Côtes du Rhône etc. The only ones we serve well chilled are the lighter ones, wines like Verdejo, Vermentino and so on. Fizz we always serve ice cold, though I agree that it does mask the flavours at times. Mind you, warm fizz is one of the most disgusting things I can think of, so I’ll sacrifice some melon and peach scent/flavour for a more pleasurable mouth-feel. With reds- we’ll try and ensure they don’t taste ‘too hot’ and if they are, we will chill for 20 minutes or so, which seems to work very well.

There’s a useful maxim that says that the majority of whites are served too cold, and the majority of reds too warm.

To expand things a bit, a good white burgundy (say) is a complex thing, and chilling it too far will lose you a lot of its internal complexity. Likewise, most pinot noirs may push towards a lack of balance when served too warm, and other bigger wines can go jammy and alcoholic. The old recommendation to serve reds at room temperature goes back to the days before central heating. It’s fair to assume that room temperature in those days was probably nearer 16C. Cooler in winter perhaps.

Serving sparklers flat and at room temperature is a seriously punishing test! Lots of sparklers originated the way they are precisely because of their history of being difficult at ambient temperatures. But it is a powerful way of seeing what the underlying wine is like, which I assume is behind @Ludlow_Steve 's WSET recommendation. Some of the best quality sparklers are actually quite “winey” and show well when pushed this way. But it certainly highlights deficiencies.

I have settled onto a scheme of trying to serve my wines at temperatures that I think will best suit them. This is fine if you have had them before though it can leave you at sea with unfamiliar wines. Fortunately having one of those chiller collars in the freezer can sort things out quickly. In the other direction, a bit of swirling and leaving the bottle on the table to warm a bit helps in the opposite direction. A quick taste on opening is the way to go here.


I tend to follow @Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis guidelines.
My cellar operates at 13°, so up to an hour in the fridge for most whites, fizz a bit colder, and an hour+ to decant and warm reds works pretty well.
Having done WSET tastings at room temperature, I can’t think of a white wine I’d prefer to drink at over 13°.
And on warmer days some pinot noirs and gamays will get 20 minutes in the fridge.
While some people find the novelty wears off, I find these gadgets quite useful.


I think that was the last nudge for me to finally buy a wine bottle thermometer…

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I need to add a third one…

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Why not just get a digital thermometer. I use it for everything

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I don’t think you understand this… different things call for different thermometers… :thermometer:



When its hot I put all my reds in the fridge for 30 minutes before opening.

If a glass of white - or red - wine is too warm I’ll put an ice cube in it.

It used to be said that reds should be served at “cellar” temperature, but as few have a cellar that is a bit vague, we do or are inclined to have white wines far to cold and red well varied is the best description, as usual Jancis has a good piece on this…

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