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How long to reach the perfect temperatures – Ask Decanter

How long should it take to cool or warm a bottle of wine for serving?

Jonathan Quaintrell-Evans, by email, asks: Is there any formula to the rate at which a bottle warms or cools?

It would be handy to know how long a bottle of red needs to spend out of a 12°C unit to be at ideal serving temperature; and on the flip side, how long a bottle should spend in a fridge in order to take three or four degrees off.

Ronan Sayburn MS, head of wine at 67 Pall Mall and CEO of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe, responds: Wine temperature is a small but very important detail and it can enhance or spoil the wine drinking experience if you get it wrong.

As modern central heating can keep room temperatures above 20°C and domestic fridges are 5°C or below – too warm for reds and too cold for whites – any specific scientific formula would have many variables that may include thickness of glass, air movement and alcohol levels.

In addition, serving temperatures will also be determined by wine styles too; for example Pinot Noir should be served at a cooler temperature than Shiraz.

The general rule is lighter reds should be served chilled, around 12-13 °C and full bodied reds at warmer temperatures, between 16-18 °C. The same logic applies to white wines; the lighter the wine, the cooler the temperature. 

As a rule of thumb, put room-temperature white wines (at 20°C) into a fridge (at 5°C) for 45 minutes or a freezer (at -15°C) for 20 minutes before serving at 8°C. Put room-temperature reds into a fridge for 20 minutes to cool to 15°C.

This question first appeared in the May 2020 issue of Decanter magazine.

See also: Should you put ice cubes in wine?

See also: What temperature to serve red wine

See also: What temperature to serve white wine

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