The general rule of thumb is that red wine is served warm, and white wine is served chilled.
These guidelines are, on the surface, wrong.
Yes, red wine is ideally served at a warmer temperature than white wine, but the perfect temperature varies on the wine. If we’re talking about rules of thumb, then red wine is best served between 50° and 65° Fahrenheit (10° to 18° Celsius). We will discuss the ideal temperatures by varietal below, but do know that any temperature listed is cooler than room temperature.
If serving a bottle, make an effort to adhere to the temperatures suggested below. This means that a bottle from a temperature controlled cellar or wine fridge simply needs to be opened. For bottles at room temperature, simply place them in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, depending on your target temperature.
Let’s be clear: It is okay, and encouraged, to chill your red wine to its ideal serving temperature.
As is noted below, the red wines that are best served at cooler temps tend to be lighter, fruitier wines. Pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley are great examples. Similar to the wines of Burgundy, the light body and complex fruit notes of pinot noir are a perfect match for cooler temps, which makes it a great summer wine.
When you bust out the ice buckets at your next summer gathering, make sure to stick a good Oregon pinot noir to cool with your chardonnay.
Ideal Wine Serving Temps
Sauvignon Blanc – 45° F (7° C)
Pinot Grigio – 45° F (7° C)
Chardonnay – 50° F (10° C)
Rosé – 50° F (10° C)
Pinot Noir – 50°-55° F (10°-13° C)
Merlot – 55°-60° F (13°-15° C)
Zinfandel – 65° F (18° C)
Shiraz – 65° F (18° C)
Cabernet Sauvignon – 65° F (18° C)