Most couples – and even colleagues – are all quite familiar with the battle of the thermostat. While women tend to add a few degrees, men usually set it on a lower temperature (or when the woman wins the battle, they sweat bullets). Nonetheless, almost no one thinks of this when talking about ‘room temperature’ as being the perfect temperature to serve our red wines. So, since the temperature of every house – and even every room – may differ, what is actually meant with ‘room temperature’?
The most common misconception with red wine is that it is ideal to serve it at a room temperature. Because let’s face it: the room temperature in wintery Canada will be quite different from that in a southern Spanish house in summer. Add to this the fact that some red wine characteristics lend themselves to being served cooler, and it becomes obvious that ‘room temperature’ cannot be defined as one specific temperature.
Actually, one theory says that the origins of the room temperature term stem from medieval times, when there was no central heating. In those times, the wines were stored in stone lined cellars underneath the castle, which were very chilly. Today we all enjoy the warmth of our heating and a good insulation of our house, making it much warmer than the average temperature of the chilly medieval castles. While at that time temperatures ranged from 15 to 18° Celsius, today we consider a temperature of 20 to 22° Celsius as comfortable.
So that being said, it is now clear that red wine has to be served cooler than one might think. But what is the ideal wine temperature then? This all depends on the type of wine you will be serving. If it is a full-bodied wine, try serving it at a temperature of about 15 to 18°C. A medium-bodied red wine should be served at 14 to 17°C, and a lighter red at 12 to 16°C. Bear in mind as well that your wine glass will have the same temperature as your surroundings. In other words: don’t be afraid to chill the wine just a bit more. After all, it is estimated that just after pouring the wine, its temperature in the glass will rise with an average of 2°C.
So next time you are opening your favourite red wine, try putting it half an hour in the fridge first. You’ll be amazed of all the the aromas and tastes you will notice. A wine served too warm will indeed become soupy and you’ll only be able to taste the alcohol. When it’s really warm, don’t be afraid to ask an ice bucket when eating out. Though even waiters and restaurant holders will still act surprised, the joy of really savouring your wine is much more important than their strange reaction.