The only way to fully appreciate the subtle complexities of a red wine is to serve it at a specific temperature. Red wines, unlike whites, all contain the substance tannin, which gives the wine unique layers of textures. Over time, the tannin mellows to compliment the other characteristics of the red wine. A wine too cold will lose the refined delicacies, and if served too warm red wine will taste flat and lifeless.
The idea that red wine should be served at “room temperature” may not hold true today, since most contemporary homes and restaurants are warmer than they were centuries ago.
Simple, fruity wines such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhones and Nebbiolos should be served between 48 and 56 degrees Fahrenheit.
Classic red wines include Sangioveses, Cabernets and Barberas. These wines are best served between 56 and 61 degrees Fahrenheit.
Complex, full-bodied wines should generally be consumed at the warmest, but still cool, temperature compared with other reds. Pinot noirs, mature Rhones, Barolos and oak-aged Merlots should ideally be served between 61 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slowly chilling in a refrigerator or ice bucket is the safest way to chill a warm red wine while still preserving the flavors.
References and ResourcesTimeForWine,com: Ideal Temperature
ResourcesBetterTastingWine.com: Wine Storage and Ideal Temperature
WineIntro: Letting a Red Wine Breathe