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Does the serving temperature of wine matter?

The temperature of the porridge had to be just right for Goldilocks to be happy. Richard Calver’s the same with wine.

“I don’t use an ice bucket for white wine even if offered at a restaurant. It’s interesting to see how the wine changes in taste as it reaches a higher temperature, especially the amelioration of acid,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER

The temperature of the porridge had to be just right for Goldilocks to be happy. I’m the same with wine. 

Richard Calver.

But before I get to that, I always disliked the Goldilocks story because she escaped from the bears and we never knew if there were consequences for her actions. 

When I heard the story as a child it rankled that she escaped without any form of punishment and, strangely, it still does. She should have been strangled with bear hands. 

One consequence of the Australian climate being hot and getting hotter means that often we serve white wines too cold and red wines way too warm.  

How do we achieve the Goldilocks temperature for each? One of the most useful articles I have encountered on this subject was published by Elderton Wines in December last year entitled “Does serving temperature of your wine matter?” 

This esteemed Barossa winery is famous for its shiraz with its Command Barossa Shiraz 2016, which I have tasted, being a standout. Anyway, the optimal temperature for drinking wine enhances the experience, so the Elderton advice is worth repeating. 

Reminding us that refrigerator temperatures are generally at 3C-4C, the advice is to take white wine out of the fridge around 30 minutes before serving.  

They advise the following serving temperatures for these varieties:

6-8ºC – sparkling, golden semillon (and dessert wines in general)
8-10ºC  – riesling, chardonnay (unoaked), rosé

10-12ºC – chardonnay (oaked).

I’m pleased with this guidance because I keep my whites in a wine fridge, which I set at 10C so no waiting 30 minutes, although a quick five minutes in the fridge before serving a sparkling now seems warranted.  

I also don’t use an ice bucket for white wine even if offered at a restaurant. It’s interesting to see how the wine changes in taste as it reaches a higher temperature, especially the amelioration of acid. 

Elderton Wines also says that room temperature for red wines in Australia makes them way too hot: they call the traditional advice that red wines should be served at room temperature a myth that was derived from France where room temperature is likely to be circa 15C-18C.  

Of course, at a barbecue in Australia the temperature is often double that number.  

To get the temperature right they say: “You might need to pop your red into the fridge or ice bucket for a short time, or if you’ve got a wine fridge that is set for cellaring at a certain temperature, you might even need to let it warm up slightly before serving.” 

The advice is to serve lighter reds at 12C-14C and more full-bodied reds, such as their shiraz, at 15C-18C.  

This all sounds like good advice, but it’s not foolproof. Lots of us won’t know when the red wine has reached these optimal temperatures or be bothered checking.  

So, I doff my cap to Taylors Wines. That company has been a pioneer in wine temperature education since 2014 when it first introduced its innovative thermo-chromatic ink technology on to some of its bottle labels, something I only recently discovered.  

The ink technology used on the back label of Taylors Estate Range reads the temperature of the bottle to within 1°C and changes colour accordingly. 

The sensor’s colour corresponds to a temperature scale on the back label, giving us a simple way to know when their wine is too cold, too warm, or, as Goldilocks would say, just right.

What happened when the three dwarfs and the seven bears met at a wine bar? They exchanged numbers.

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Ian Meikle, editor

Richard Calver

Richard Calver

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