By Dirk Huds

Get the most enjoyment from your wine by serving it at the proper temperature. As a general rule, white and sparkling wines are served chilled and red wines are not; there is a tendency, however, to serve the former too cold and the latter too warm. This robs wines of their full flavor and aroma. Achieving the correct serving temperatures for different wines is relatively easy.

As a general rule, white and sparkling wines should be served chilled.

White Wines

close-up of a bottle of white wine with a wineglass on a table
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Bottle and glass of white wine

A white wine, such as sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot grigio, should be chilled to refrigerator temperature, usually between 35 F and 38 F, for an hour and a half. Remove the bottle from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving to it to warm slightly, which releases the aromas. High-quality, full-bodied white wines, such as vintage chardonnay or white Burgundy, should be served slightly warmer; remove these wines from the refrigerator half an hour before serving.

Sparkling Wines

Two champagne glass with bottle
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Bottle and two glasses of champagne

Sparkling wines should be chilled in the refrigerator for an hour and a half, and then transferred to a wine bucket filled with ice and water for 20 minutes before serving. Champagnes should receive the same treatment but should be removed from the bucket for approximately 10 minutes before serving; warming Champagne slightly releases its more mature characteristics.

Dessert Wines

Dessert wine on the canvas
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Bottle of dessert wine

White and yellow dessert wines, such as Tokaji and Sauternes, should be given the same treatment as white wines. Remove them from the refrigerator as you serve the main course, and they should be ideal at dessert time. Fortified dessert wines, such as port or sweet sherry, should not be chilled; they are best served at cellar temperature.

Red Wines

Red wine pouring into a glass
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Red wine poured into glasses

Many people assume that red wines should be served at room temperature. It is true that they should be served warmer than white and sparkling wines, but they are generally best served slightly cooler than room temperature; 50 F is ideal. If red wine is kept in a cellar, it is fine to serve it directly from there; otherwise, chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving.