How often have you noticed a significant difference between a wine consumed at a restaurant, and then the same label at home or friends house? You say to yourself 'what has changed between then and now'? One very likely factor is the temperature at which it was served - and yes it can make a HUGE difference.
A good wine is crafted to be drank at its optimal temperature, and it is so often that people aim for 'good enough', when 'near-perfect' is not all that far off. A regular foible is to serve a white wine too cold, around beer temperature, making the flavors and nose hard to detect. At the other end of the spectrum we have red wines served far too warm, making the alcohol (among other things) too prominent. The notion of 'red wine should be served at room temperature, while white wine should be served chilled' has always been pretty vague advice considering 'room temperature' can vary based on the season and the location. That and the notion itself predates baseboard heating, 'cellar temperature' should have been more of a guideline all this time it turns out.
In summer, it is best to serve wine 3 or 4 degrees under the recommended temperature, because it will reach its ideal temperature in just a few seconds. The hand transmits its heat to the glass, which in turn heats the wine. For this reason, it is best to hold a wine glass by the stem (unless you're drinking to get a buzz, then all bets are off as the wine doesn't have time to heat up). Make sure not to over-chill your reds either, the fruit disappears leaving behind over-the-top acidity, tannins, regret, and sadness. Until it warms to temp, then you're fine :)
The chart below comes with every Avintage wine cabinet sold by French Corner Cellars, and highlights the major wines’ optimum serving temperatures.
Feel free to print this out, it can be immensely helpful if you have a mind to pay attention to it, perhaps frame it and keep it next to your wine collection - we recommend walnut, it looks very classy.
Until next time!