Wine Serving Temperature

Wine Serving Temperature

When first learning about wine, most of us are taught an easy principle for serving wine- white wine chilled, red at room temperature.  Although convenient to remember, unfortunately this formula is wrong.  It comes from an old French rule-of-thumb, dating to a time before double-glazing, central heating and home refrigeration made our homes more energy efficient.

I can understand the average wine drinker using this principle at home, but unfortunately Irish bars and restaurants seem to cling to it with a disappointingly tenacious vigour.  In the past two months I have experienced both ends of this fallacious spectrum.  On the first occasion I was served a Chablis that was taken from a cold fridge and then placed in an ice bucket, chilling it to a tongue-numbing cold.  A couple of degrees colder and I could have eaten the wine like an ice pop.  Removing the wine from the ice I requested the redundant bucket be removed, the waiter, misunderstanding, placed the wine back on the ice, presumably cursing my laziness as he hurried off.

More recently I was drinking in a popular Dublin city centre tapas bar, and was served a red Priorat that came straight from the restaurant’s hot kitchen.   Where it should have been 16-18C, this was far too warm and jammy, without a hint of acidic freshness.  Considering I was paying over €9 for the glass, I asked that it be put in the fridge for a few minutes , as a red wine is much better served too cold than too warm.  As the waitress hesitantly removed the glass, she flashed me a sympathetic smile that suggested my gastronomic etiquette might be better catered for at the nearby McDonald’s.

Now, I do not include these examples to show my wine snobbishness, nor exhibit my wine knowledge. I include them to illustrate that many Irish establishments either don’t know that different wines should be served at different temperatures, or they plain don’t care enough about their customers to do so.  Although I hope the truth is closer to the former, the simple fact is anyone with access to a computer can do a simple internet search for wine serving temperatures.  And that’s the point here.  If you are serving wine in your establishment and charging a very healthy mark-up (which can be as high as 350%), the least you can do is serve it near the temperature that the winemaker himself recommends.  Showing such disrespect for customers will, in the long run, seriously hurt the drinks industry in Ireland.  Over the past couple of years the government has hit wine hard with numerous tax and duty charges, leaving many wine drinkers drinking more at home. If these wine-serving establishments want to entice us back out, a good start would be an investment in a decent wine fridge.