Temperature and Red Wine

DSC01231It’s a question we hear a lot in the tasting room. “Are you serving chilled red wine?”

The answer? Well, kind of.

Our red wine is stored in a temperature-controlled unit that keeps the wine at, essentially, wine cellar temperature. The ideal wine cellar temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is common to leave a red wine out and simply serve it at room temperature. However, thanks to the wonders of central heating, room temperature is often too warm for red wine. Because wine is a combination of so many complex compounds, serving red wine too warm can distort both the nose and the flavor profile. The alcohol will taste too sharp, and it will also evaporate quickly, disturbing the balance of the wine. (On the other hand, red wine that is too cold will not release its full aroma and will be too bitter from the tannins.) According to wine expert Charles Thomas, “Improper serving temperature is one of the common reasons people say they don’t like a particular wine.”

In order to determine the best temperature for our wine, we turned to Matt Loso, the Walla Faces winemaker. Based on the results from his taste-test, we recommend serving our red wines at about ten degrees below room temperature. For example, the tasting room is 72 degrees, so we serve our wine at 62 degrees.

Glass of Cabernet BlendIn the end, even the most incredulous wine-tasters usually end up pleased with the temperature of the wine. When the most recent skeptic left, he happily exclaimed that the wine temperature was “perfect”.

For those of us who do not have temperature-controlled wine cellars, how can you ensure that your Walla Faces red wine is served at the proper temperature? The easiest way is to stick it in the fridge for 45 minutes, and then to allow the wine to warm at room temperature for another 20 minutes.