To Chill or Not to Chill: Red Wine

Those coming to wine for the first time may think it seems confusing or complicated to figure out the best way to serve wine. From the style of glass you pour the wine into, to the food you serve with it, it can seem like there are a bewildering variety of areas where the novice can make a mistake! But worry not, we have produced a handy set of guides which help you to negotiate the wonderful world of wine.

While some more hard-nosed wine snobs turn their nose up at chilling red wines, there are some fantastic examples of red wines that actually taste much better with a slight chill. As with everything in the wine world, there are some guidelines to follow, but no rule applies universally. There are plenty of delicious exceptions. Want to know more? Read on!

Why Are Most Red Wines Served at Room Temperature?

Serving all wines at the correct temperature is crucial to experiencing the aromas, flavors, and structure of the wine as the vintner intended it.

Bigger, bolder red wines that have medium to high levels of tannin are best served at slightly warmer temperatures and do not respond well to being chilled. Their tannins and body can be accentuated at lower temperatures, and this will throw the wine out of balance when you drink it.

The usual advice is to serve a red wine at room temperature. Of course, all rooms are different and room temperature can change according to what time of the year it is! Also, personal preference does come into play. Some people will just prefer certain wines at slightly different temperatures. Experiment a little with temperature, but remember that the conventional wisdom is that the heavier and more full-bodied the wine is, the higher its serving temperature should ideally be.

Choosing Temperatures for Popular Red Wines

A hefty Syrah, juicy Zinfandel, or beautifully bold Cabernet Sauvignon are likely to taste the best at a serving temperature in the region of 65° F. That is probably still a little cooler than your modern home with its efficient insulation!

Slightly less powerful wines with a lighter body like a Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc will benefit from a cooler temperature – 60° F or thereabouts.

A wine fridge is the most efficient way to get these temperatures just right. Keeping your wine in a cooler part of the house, like a cellar or garage, should help to optimize the enjoyment when you serve them. A cool dark place is also desirable for storing your wine properly in the long term, so there are a few benefits to finding a good spot to keep your wines!

Which Red Wines Benefit From Being Chilled?

As you move along the spectrum to the lightest-bodied red wines, you begin to reach territory where the wines are led more by their acidity and fresh-fruit characters than by body and tannin. That means that these particular beverages will respond very well to being served a little chilled, as their balance will not be altered and indeed the acidity may work better in the balance of the wine once it has spent a little time in the refrigerator.


Once again, a wine fridge is a great way to get this exactly right. You could also get these wines cold (around 55° F) by putting them in the fridge for half an hour and taking them out a few minutes before serving. This is usually the right amount of time to take the edge off without making the bottle completely fridge cold.


Alternatively, put the bottle in the refrigerator overnight and take it out about an hour before serving to allow it to come properly up to temperature.




When talking about lighter-bodied reds, it is usually Beaujolais that first comes to mind. This red wine is made from the Gamay grape and is often served young when it is full of fresh, fruity flavors. You can expect these wines to be bursting with cherry, red fruit, and berry aromas, so they can be happily paired with chicken or pork dishes. You might even like to try them alongside duck. After all, duck and cherry is quite a classic combination.


 Valpolicella Classico


You might also like to try chilling reds like Valpolicella Classico. This Italian wine is made with the Corvina grape. In this wine, you can expect herbal notes, black pepper, and delicious fruit flavors like red currants, raspberries, and cherries. This wine works beautifully with grilled vegetables and even salmon. A light chill on the wine will help to enhance the pairing.


Pinot Noir


A younger, fresher Pinot Noir can also benefit from a little time in the refrigerator before you serve it. These wines can be quite light in body and high in acidity, so they will work well at the lower end of the temperature spectrum.

Why not try out some different serving temperatures with Sweet Oaks wines? You can order a range of wines made with different grapes and an exciting range of flavor profiles from our online shop.

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