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Chambré (Room Temperature)

Light reds, such as Pinot Noir should be served slightly cooler than full-bodied reds such as California Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Bordeaux, and Rhône wines (55 to 65 degrees). Full-bodied whites, such as Chardonnay and white Rhônes may be served slightly warmer than sparkling wines, dessert wines and light-bodied whites (34 to 50 degrees).

So how do you take a wine's temperature? There are a couple of devices for technical measurement. But most of us just use the cellar or refrigerator temps as a place to start. A bottle of red that is stored in a 55-degree cellar will warm up quickly during opening and serving. Hands can also be used to warm the glass. A bottle of red wine that has been stored at room temperature can be brought down to cellar temperature by 30 minutes or less in the refrigerator. If you like whites and can't seem to transition to reds, it may be because we grow up drinking everything either hot or cold. So chilling them a bit more is a way to make the adjustment. But over chilling any wine will make it close up—flavors and aromas will be lost.

A white wine that comes from the cellar can be further chilled by an hour or so in the frig. Even better is filling a metal ice bucket with equal amounts of cold water and ice cubes. Taste preferences vary. I like my sparkling wines as cold as I can get them—without freezing. So a little time in the freezer is a must. I also chill the flutes! And for Champagne emergencies, place a bottle in the ice water bucket with a towel over it. And put in the freezer.

But rapid fluctuations in temperature can destroy a fine wine. So save the fine wines for a time when you can gradually warm or cool them.


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