Ice Cold in Alastair’s Wine Glass

I’ve just been looking at where there is chart suggesting that white wine should be served between 5 and 11 degrees Celsius, and red wine between 12 and 18 degrees (depending on type).  Nearly every wine website and book gives pretty much this advice.

So why does almost every bar/resto serve wine at the wrong temperature then?  Here’s why…

Ambient room temperature in most modern houses is about 23 degrees.  Ambient temperature in most modern fridges is about 5 degrees C. 

I am sat here at home drinking a glass of Rosé that has been in the fridge for about two and a half weeks.  Guess what temperature it is?

When you open a bottle of red wine do you ever put it in the fridge?  I never used to because in the 1970’s my dad taught me that red wine should be served at “room temperature”, and that white wine should be “chilled” – (read placed in fridge for days).

Relatively recently I started appreciating that the temperature you serve wine is pretty important.  Chill a white wine too cold and you lose its most important flavours.  Serve a red wine too warm and it tastes miserable, boring and flabby.

The wine to drink warmest (according to advice much more sage than mine) is a fine Bordeaux red which should be drunk between 16 and 18 degrees.

Now here’s a chilling thought (pun intended).  I put a fine Bordeaux red in my fridge door for 45 minutes and when I removed it the temperature was 17 deg.  Most lesser quality red wines should be drunk colder than this down to a young Beaujolais which is recommended at 12 deg!  That’s 1.5 to 2 hours in my fridge door.  My god it tastes better for it though!

So what about white wine? Well most fine whites are best drunk at nearer 10 deg. than straight from the fridge.  This is generally easier to manage because wine removed from the fridge warms quite quickly so give it 15 mins stand and its probably somewhere near.

So how do we get bars and restaurants to give us our wine at the right temperature?  Like all businesses they have to keep their customers happy.  So we need to register our views.  I am frequently given odd looks in restaurants as I politely request an ice bucket to go with my (too warm) red wine.  I equally take whites out of the ice bucket if they are too chilled.  Frankly I don’t give a monkey’s cuss what the waiter or the other diners think.  If I am paying some extortionate mark-up on a wine I want it served right.  I mean you wouldn’t drink a warm lager if you had paid £4 a bottle for it would you?

Do you agree?   If so, make your point next time you eat out.  If not, let me know!

2 Responses to “Ice Cold in Alastair’s Wine Glass”

  1. Michael Bakewell Says:

    IIRC when I was in Australia the maxim was: pop your red wine INTO the fridge for 30 mins before drinking but, take your white OUT of the fridge 30 mins before drinking…

  2. Alastair Bathgate Says:


    I like that advice – neat and simple! If only more restos took note…

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