Wine Wine Thoughts

Wine Thoughts on Room Temperature

Don’t Drink Hot Malbec

Long, long ago, when I was in my 20’s and new to the world of wine, I drank a lot of hot red wine (I went through a grocery store Malbec phase). Somewhere I had heard red wine should be served at “room temperature” but never bothered to truly educate myself about proper temperatures.

Piatelli Malbec can be found at most Safeway/Von’s grocery stores.
Don’t drink it too hot!

It’s the Heat

Growing up in Arizona (it’s so hot!) with temperatures above 100° F for half the year, room temperatures can be close to 80°F, especially in the summer months. So yeah, I drank hot, budget-friendly Malbec for years, never knowing it could’ve tasted so much better.

The quickest way to chill down a bottle of wine is to put it in a bucket of ice for 10-15 minutes.

Red wine that’s too warm gets unpleasant. Alcohol fumes seem harsher as they burn down the esophagus, and fruit will seem less bright and fresh. Some restaurants will even serve your wine too warm, and it’s perfectly o.k. to ask them for a bucket of ice to chill it down a bit. But, whatever you do, don’t drink cheap hot Malbec. You’ll spend years thinking this is what it’s supposed to taste like.

It’s the heat!
Portlandia Image via Pinterest

Temperatures Vary

Ideal wine temperatures vary, depending on what varietal and style of wine it is. Sure, I know this now, but I still don’t take it too seriously or use a thermometer with each glass. My wine refrigerator is set at 64°F and that’s where I keep my good reds, daily drinking reds, whites, rosé, and even amber wines (I need a bigger frig!). That way, they’re not stored too warm and it’s easy to chill down the bottles that need to be served cooler/cold.

Don’t Cook Your Wine or Leave them in Hot Cars

Don’t let any wine be served or stored at 80°F or above. It can become “cooked” by heat damage and make the wine taste off. Don’t have a temperature controlled wine refrigerator or ancient, humid, stone cellar? Any wine rack or cool, dark space away from heat or light sources (keep away from hot kitchens and sunlight) will work fine.

Just like you’d never, ever leave a pet in a car on a hot (or even warm) day, don’t leave your wine in there either!

You can even keep your reds in the refrigerator and just pull a bottle out about half an hour before you want to open it. Or, place a room temperature bottle in the refrigerator and chill it for about an hour before opening.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Exact

Lighter reds like Gamay or those made via carbonic maceration (young, fresh, and fruitier styles generally with lower tannins) should be served cooler, in the range of 50°-58°F. Bolder, more tannic reds like Cabernet can be at the higher end of the spectrum, up to 69°F. But, it doesn’t have to be exact. Best to go too cool than too warm!

This looks delicious

Those are my wine thoughts for the day… don’t drink hot wine. Room temperature is always too warm. Cheers.




I write about wine as well as the unique stories behind each label. I'm a R.D.H. with an applied science degree in dental hygiene, and have been geeking out about wine for over 20 years. Before obtaining a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification, I learned about wine just by trying different styles and regions. I've also worked with a local distributor in wine sales. Wine brings people together and makes the world a smaller, friendlier place... Cheers!


Lona Rios

Thanks! This really helps! It verifies what I have been feeling for years. Thanks again!



That’s so great! Cheers!


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