Correct service temperature of wine is crucial to express its aromas and mouth feel.
White wines are, at least in North America, are often served too cold to appreciate them at their best. The best temperature for dry white wines is 50 F (10 C). Lower temperatures disguise the wine’s true aromatics and change its taste perception. Generally, a white wine requires two hours in the refrigerator and approximately 20 minutes in a brine of water, salt and ice cubes.
Sweet white wines show their best at 13 C (55 F) and truly outstanding wines at 15 C (58 F).
At freezing temperatures the tongue cannot distinguish flavour nuances. In some restaurants, that want to pass inferior wines, white wine service temperatures at near or at freezing. When a glass frosts after the wine is poured, it is too cold.
Sparkling white wines taste best at 8 C (48 F) pending on sweetness.
Red wines ought to be served at 65 F (18 C). This is generally the room temperature in Central European countries. Red wine at 70 or warmer tastes insipid, flabby and smells of alcohol. Mature red wines should be served at 68 F (20 C)) as they contain less tannins. Very young nouveau-style wines benefit of temperatures 12 – 14 C( 55 – 58 F). Nouveau style wines are produced using a process called carbonic maceration that changes their colour, texture, and aromatic components.
Fortified wines, such as Ports, Sherries, Madeira -, and Marsala wines require 19 C (66 F), but vintage port wines must be served at 21 C (68 – 70 F), dry Sherries 12 C ( 56 F) and sweet 17 C ( 60 – 65).
Beginners are advised to use a thermometer. Later on the trained tongue becomes a good indictor.
Never put a wine in the freezer to cool it quickly, or next to the fireplace or in hot water to warm it up.