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Wine and Serving Temperature

Wine is a game of pleasure, taste, smell, texture – an experience in each bottle. If by serving wine at the correct temperature we can measurably increase the quality of that experience, then why is it so prevalent in America today that we are consuming wines that are warm and flabby or cold beyond recognition? Wine served at the wrong temperature, even a few degrees warmer then optimal, makes a huge difference in the quality of the taste. To further illuminate the point, when professionals analyze the quality of white wines it is quite accepted to taste them warmer then at optimal temperature as a method to expose flaws as colder will tend to hide them.

Having spent over twenty years in the hospitality business, I am not at all beyond laying a challenge at the feet of that industry to demonstrate more leadership in offering best practices for the proper service of wine, including serving wine at proper temperatures. In America today, most of our finer restaurants do very little when it comes to serving wines at proper serving temperatures.I predict, as the American consumer becomes more wine savvy, restaurants will ultimately become more conscientious about the temperatures at which they serve wine.

The idea that wine should be served at room temperature comes from medieval Europe. During that period of European history when winemaking knowledge grew and people began passing around texts of their knowledge, a chateau or estate’s “room temperature” was most likely in the range of 50-60 degrees. (Remember this is centuries before furnaces, heat pumps or air conditioning.) No wonder wines served in a castle tasted so good! Like most Americans, I do not live nor regularly wine and dine in castles. Therefore, drinking wine warmed to the cozy temperature of my living room or yours is not the optimum wine consumption temperature!

I, like every consumer in the marketplace, expect to drink good wine and want to experience the very best of every bottle I purchase. Here are three things that you can do today to increase your enjoyment of wine:

· Buy a temperature-controlled storage unit for your home.

· Use a simple practice of taking white wine out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving and placing red wine into the fridge 20 minutes before serving.

· When you go out to eat, ask the manager or service staff the serving temperature of the wines you would like to order. If they can answer the question with confidence, give them support and explore their wine offerings with the same confidence. If they give you a deer-in-the-headlights look, do not buy their more expensive offerings on the wine list. Chances are they are not being stored properly.