The temperature has a profound influence on the way we enjoy the wine. The higher the temperature, the more readily the aromatic substances volatilize, providing more fragrances and the most intense aromas to the sense of smell. The aromas are exalted at 18º C, reduced at 12º C, and almost non-existent at 8º C. On the other hand the alcohol evaporation becomes dominant as of 20º C, surpassing all the other scents.
Therefore, wines should not be served above 20º C, because we risk not feeling anything but the smell of the alcohol, as they should not be served at temperatures below 6° C, since the taste buds are anaesthetized from that temperature onwards.
Sweet wines, low temperatures
The serving temperature is determined by the sugar content, the degree of acidity, the tannin, the alcohol content and the eventual presence of carbon dioxide. The higher the temperature the greater the palate sensitivity to the sweetness. Therefore sweet wines should be served at lower temperatures than usual in order to counterbalance the sweetness.
The lower the temperature the greater our sensitivity to the tannins astringency. The temperature plays a crucial role in the release of carbon dioxide, especially in sparkling wines. The sparkling wines should be served at very low temperatures, thus forcing the gas release to more civilized levels in order to become pleasant.
Don’t worry if the wine is served at a slightly below temperature than the ideal one. We can then write down a list of service temperatures that even though it is generic, serves as a secure reference for most occasions:
- White: 10° C to 12° C (50º F to 53,6º F)
- Complex white: 12° C to 14° C (53,6º F to 57,2º F)
- Red: 15º C to 17º C (59º F to 62,6º F)
- Complex red: 16º C to 18º C (60,8º F to 64,4º F)
- Sparkling wine: 8° C (46,4º F)
- Tawny Port, Madeira wine and Muscatel: 14º C (57,2º F)
- Vintage Port Wine: 16º C (60,8º F)
- Late harvest: 6º C to 8º C (42,8º F to 46,4º F)