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Why is red wine said to be supposed to be served ''at room temperature''?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

We all know that serving red wine at what is considered room temperature (depending on your definition, around 22°C) is complete nonsense. That's just way too warm. Instead, red wine should generally be served at around 16°C, with some types slightly warmer while others slightly cooler. And in wine terms this actually is called ''room temperature'' - you can even read it on the labels ''serve at room temperature (16°C to 18°C)''. So why do they call it ''room temperature''?

 

One theory that I've heard is that in old French chateaux in the 19th century the ambient temperature would be around those 16°C to 18°C. Really? That cold? Like they didn't have hearths? I'm not buying this.

 

Here's what I think:

 

Obviously since the English-speaking world is rather new to wine making, this instruction has originally been penned in some other language, probably French. If you read the French labels, they say ''servir chambré'', which sounds kind of different. Chambrer means, according to dictionary, ''to bring to room temperature''. The past participle implies that you're supposed to do something to the wine before serving it, that chambré is not the state it's normally in. I think they would store all wine - white or red -  in a cellar, where temperatures would be around 12°C. And for reds, they would bring the bottle to the room for an hour or so to warm it before drinking. While they wouldn't bring it completely to room temperature, they would bring it at least closer to it. And hence chambré, which got translated into English as room temperature and has been confusing everyone and ruining wines ever since.

 

What do you guys think?

post #2 of 28

The rule I have always heard and lived by was that robust reds, like Bordeaux or other Cabernet-based wines, Cote de Rhones, or robust Italians (such as Barolas) were to be served at slightly below room temperature, say 65 degrees F/22 degrees C.  Lighter reds like Bourgones or Beaujolais should be served "frais" or chilled to well below room temperature, say about 55 degrees F, 12 degrees C.  Wine cellars/storage facilities normally should be kept at about 55 degrees F/12 degrees C.  So robust reds should be brought up in time to warm a bit before serving, if possible.

 

Room temprature, by the way, is not 16-18 degrees C/60-65 degrees F.  A restaurant in the US or Northern Europe which kept its dining room at that temperature would have no female diners! 

post #3 of 28

It depends on the wine actually. 

The temperature the wine is served at can affect the way it smells as well as is taste. 

 

Sparkling wine is best served ice cold 40-50 degrees F

 

White and Rosé can be served a bit warmer, but still cold 45-60 degress F.

When white wine is served too cold, its flavors and smell can be masked. When its really cold, all you taste is the acid. 

When its served to warm its flavors aren´t really good, taste becomes a bit dull.  

 

Red Wine should be served cool, 55-65 degress F. 

Don´t leave it a whole day in the fridge but just enough to get its temperature down. 

When red wine is served too cold, its taste can seem more acidic.

When served to warm, they taste weird, you can really taste the alcohol. Plus its fruit flavors and other flavor notes can seem dull as well. 

 

Serving at room temperature should be interpreted differently. 

"When the french reccomend serving your full-body reds “chambrés” (at ambient room temperature), they’re actually referring to room temperature as it was in European dining rooms in the medieval times: that is before central heating existed, so 15°-18°C." 

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post #4 of 28

Great commentary here.

 

At work, we take the reds out about 2 hours before service, open and decant.

Whites are kept in the cooler until service then transferred to a insulated wine holder.

We don't serve the whites ultra-cold and the reds are still cool.

 

I am very familiar with the tastes of warmer wines. White is awful but red is a little more forgiving.

post #5 of 28
I think you would do this more for the decanting and breathing of the wine than the temp. But that's just me. I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

At work, we take the reds out about 2 hours before service, open and decant.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorCornbread View Post
 

The rule I have always heard and lived by was that robust reds, like Bordeaux or other Cabernet-based wines, Cote de Rhones, or robust Italians (such as Barolas) were to be served at slightly below room temperature, say 65 degrees F/22 degrees C. 

 

Room temprature, by the way, is not 16-18 degrees C/60-65 degrees F.  A restaurant in the US or Northern Europe which kept its dining room at that temperature would have no female diners! 

 

1, I think 22°C is way too warm for any red, however robust it may be. In fact, I've seen it written on Bordeaux reds to serve them at 16-18°C (just drank one such wine yesterday).

 

2, Of course room temperature is not, in the general sense, 16-18°C. However, when talking about wines, this is precisely what ''room temperature'' means. You can see it on the wine bottle labels: ''serve at room temperature (16 to 18 °C)''.

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

I think you would do this more for the decanting and breathing of the wine than the temp. But that's just me. I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin'.

Think about a 1.75 ML bottle of red that has been stored at 57 degrees.

Now it's decanted into a leaded glass decanter at around 6:00 pm and allowed to breathe, open up and come to a warmer temperature within two hours. 

All of the above my friend.

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post
Serving at room temperature should be interpreted differently. 

"When the french reccomend serving your full-body reds “chambrés” (at ambient room temperature), they’re actually referring to room temperature as it was in European dining rooms in the medieval times: that is before central heating existed, so 15°-18°C." 

 

I've heard of that theory. I just think it's complete nonsense. Why would anyone keep referring to realities of medieval times? Has there been some proper research into this? Could someone point me to a credible source? Also, while I'm not a native speaker of French, I don't think ''at room temperature'' captures the meaning of ''chambré'' very well. To me, ''chambré'' implies taking it out of cellar and bringing it to the room and let it sit there for some time.

post #9 of 28

average daily temperature of Bordeaux region

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post #10 of 28

I know he's a bit of a pedantic but Robert Parker has this to say:

 

"The temperature of red wines is very import, and in America's generously headed dining rooms, temperatures are often 75 to 80F, higher than is good for fine red wine.  A red wine served at such temperature will taste flat and flabby, with its bouquet diffused and unfocused.  The alcohol content will also seem higher than it should be.  The ideal temperature for most red wines is 62-67F; light red wine such as Beaujolais should be chilled to 55.  For white wines, 55-60 is perfect, since most will show all their complexity and intensity at this temperature, whereas if they are chilled to below 45F it will be difficult to tell, for instance, whether the wine is a Riesling or a Chardonnay."

 

I store my wine at 57 and bring up for drinking.  The problem I have is when decanting a newish red, it sometimes needs 1-2 hours and that allows it to get too warm as I don't have a space to place the decanter that is cooled.  But cool is definitely best, regardless of what room temperature might translate from or mean.

 

MG

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slayertplsko View Post
 

 

I've heard of that theory. I just think it's complete nonsense. Why would anyone keep referring to realities of medieval times? Has there been some proper research into this? Could someone point me to a credible source? Also, while I'm not a native speaker of French, I don't think ''at room temperature'' captures the meaning of ''chambré'' very well. To me, ''chambré'' implies taking it out of cellar and bringing it to the room and let it sit there for some time.

Oh yeah definitely i think this advice should be taken with a grain a salt. 

But i definitely also think its a somewhat valid interpretation. For example here in Brazil room temperature would be crazy to serve wine, so we interpret that it should be served at a lower temp.

 

Obviously we shouldnt serve it at "medieval temperature levels", but maybe the comman european (france) temperature would be fine.

 

Idk cuz i drink really cheap wine at home (not at work though). But i did study wine and wine culture/history for a bit after finishing trade school.  

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post #12 of 28


I think your theory makes sense...and is quite interesting really. That said, I feel you should drink the wine at what ever temp you like. I know some who only drink reds chilled and those that drink whites at "room temperature". Reds...in my opinion...should be stored slightly chilled and allowed to come up in temp before drinking. But that's just me.

post #13 of 28

My mother dumps an ice cube in her red.  I only let her drink the cheap stuff. LOL

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by M Crawford View Post
 


I think your theory makes sense...and is quite interesting really. That said, I feel you should drink the wine at what ever temp you like. I know some who only drink reds chilled and those that drink whites at "room temperature". Reds...in my opinion...should be stored slightly chilled and allowed to come up in temp before drinking. But that's just me.


A lot of good sense here, especially about doing what you like.

 

Here a few tips I have learned over the years from many experts. The higher the cellar temperature the faster a wine ages. The bigger the bottle size the faster the wine ages. Wines from a decent oenologist are more fruit forward if drunk early. The same wine will be more tame with smoother tannins if aged. The introduction of plenty of air (decanting) can help tame the tannins on a lesser vintage. Better glasses, with a more open nose, make wines taste better, I did this as a blind taste test to my guest. Pouring the same wine into three different glasses, guest thought the "vintage" in the open big "nose" glass was the better "year".

post #15 of 28

I agree most reds should be in the 60's, desert wines right around 50.  I;m not a Merlot drinker but some hillbilly once served me Merlot out of the fridge, a decent cheap one I'd even had before, and damned if I didn't like it.

post #16 of 28
>>"Wines from a decent oenologist are more fruit forward if drunk early."<<

Not sure I get that at all.
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midlife View Post

>>"Wines from a decent oenologist are more fruit forward if drunk early."<<

Not sure I get that at all.

Many people assume that the longer a wine ages, the better it will becomes. The reality of wine making is many wines are produced from less than fully ripe grapes and aging is required to over come excessively harsh tannins. A great oenologist insures that the grapes are picked at their prime even if that means they may be required to be picked vine-by-vine let alone row-by-row. The operation may extend over the course of days or even weeks. This is a strictly hand operation so only small vineyards can afford this attention to detail. The hand operation means the wine is made without caterpillars, green grapes, or beetles.

These wines are meant to be drunk “young” and do not require an extended ageing period to be palatable. The fact is, throughout the world, most wine is drunk "young". When a red wine with sufficient tannin ages, it can develop complexity and a smoother mouth feel and improved balance. Usually, the initial boldness of the fruit (fruit forward, fruity) fades leaving a more elegant wine with perhaps a smoother finish. I am one who prefers the big bold flavor in a fresh red. Nine months on the oak is usually plenty if your wine maker is great.

post #18 of 28

I'll add my two cents to this conversation as well though we're getting quite off the topic of temperature.  Winemakers can create the wine ready to drink now or age worthy.  Part of this comes from the picking as Steve described as well as how it's fermented and barreled. My cellar is a mix of these with some, like a 2012 Montelana Estate Cab really drinkable now but great to lay down and drink in 10 years. My Hall Napa cabs on the other hand, need to sit 2-3 years after bottling to be drinkable but will easily cellar 15-20 years.  Others I'll drink as is because like Steve, I enjoy a big, bold, wine.  That usually gets satisfied with a Syrah, Zinfandel or other Italian varietal so type plays in as well.  My cabs I prefer more aged and smoother but will still drink a younger wine if it has the structure and a good balance of fruit to acid.

 

This is all, of course, a matter of taste.  Temperature will affect some of this as well so it's all a balancing act.  Bottom line, drink it as you like it, young, aged, fruity, tannic or cool.

 

MG

post #19 of 28

I may be taking you too literally.

 

What I didn't get was the connection between the quality of the oenologist and how fruit forward the wine might be early.  I suppose I'm not clear on how the timing of harvest is directly linked to the harvest method. Do 'better' oenologists not recommend hand-picking later on? Isn't it more about what they are looking to make in terms of wine style and how good they are at achieving that?

 

We may also disagree on whether or not the development of "complexity and a smoother mouth feel and improved balance" is a good thing.

 

 


>>"Wines from a decent oenologist are more fruit forward if drunk early."<<

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midlife View Post
 

I may be taking you too literally.

 

What I didn't get was the connection between the quality of the oenologist and how fruit forward the wine might be early.  I suppose I'm not clear on how the timing of harvest is directly linked to the harvest method. Do 'better' oenologists not recommend hand-picking later on? Isn't it more about what they are looking to make in terms of wine style and how good they are at achieving that?

 

We may also disagree on whether or not the development of "complexity and a smoother mouth feel and improved balance" is a good thing.

 

 


>>"Wines from a decent oenologist are more fruit forward if drunk early."<<

Wine made from grapes indiscriminately grown and picked may produce a wine so tannic and puckering that it must be aged before is sheds (hopefully) some of its unpleasant characteristics. By the time is “matures” four~five years that initial huge fruit forward taste has diminished or vanished.

post #21 of 28

I'm new here, so I may not understand the nuances of communication on these boards. Your response doesn't at all seem to respond to the reply I wrote, and which you quote.

 

I enjoy communication with others about wine on other sites, but I must say this brief exchange with you has been a bit frustrating. I don't know which one of us is missing something but you've been here longer so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I just wish I knew how/where this went astray.

 

I'll refrain from further comment so as not to keep this topic from getting even farther off it's original subject.

 

Cheers!

post #22 of 28

I will jump in with my 2 cents.

 

I think the implied message is that reds are not to be refrigerated.  Its more a message to the masses, one of those "rules of thumb" that is used to give a broad reference point.

 

As pointed out earlier, more people than you would think plop a couple of ice cubes in any red wine they drink.  Usually preceded by the statement that they prefer white wine.

 

I can't get on my high horse due to the fact that I like to drink a nice reisling  with a couple of ice cubes when its hot out and enjoying a seat on the front porch. :)

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oetzi View Post
 

I will jump in with my 2 cents.

 

I think the implied message is that reds are not to be refrigerated.  Its more a message to the masses, one of those "rules of thumb" that is used to give a broad reference point.

 

As pointed out earlier, more people than you would think plop a couple of ice cubes in any red wine they drink.  Usually preceded by the statement that they prefer white wine.

 

I can't get on my high horse due to the fact that I like to drink a nice reisling  with a couple of ice cubes when its hot out and enjoying a seat on the front porch. :)


But good wine storage dictates keeping reds somewhere in the high 50 degree range. Isn't that "refrigerated"? On the other hand I work for someone who's been in the wine business 40+ years. While I will refrigerate leftover reds he won't. He VacuVins them and leaves them out in a place that's around 70 degrees. His thought is that raising and lowering the temp by 35-40 degrees (fridge to that room) is harder on the wine than staying in the 70s. The difference may be that I'm drinking half a bottle, refrigerating under Argon, then finishing the bottle in a few days (so the temp swing occurs once) while he's keeping the wines for service in a wine bar, so the swing may occur several times over several days.

post #24 of 28
If your refrigerator is 50 or higher, your food is spoiled.
40 degrees and your food would be spoiled.

For all intents and purposes, temperature danger zone is 40-140. As everyone here should know..
post #25 of 28

Wine storage units, as I said, are generally set between somewhere 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I put the word "refrigerated" in quotes intentionally. I'm not talking about food, I'm talking about wine. If I put a half-drunk bottle of wine in a food refrigerator (as I will overnight) it IS at something in the mid 30degree range. What am I not understanding?


Edited by Midlife - 4/1/16 at 9:07am
post #26 of 28

Midlife, I saw your note you're new here so a quick primer - posters here will argue minutiae ad nauseum.  Sometimes it's interesting, most times it gets off topic, as this thread quickly has.  At some point it's best to just let it go. :peace: 

post #27 of 28
IETinker, I've been known to argue minutiae ad naseum but it's usually easier when the replies make sense to me. Conversation generally requires understanding in both directions. I'm quickly losing whatever interest led me here.
Edited by Midlife - 4/1/16 at 11:38am
post #28 of 28
Quote:
 

We all know that serving red wine at what is considered room temperature (depending on your definition, around 22°C) is complete nonsense. That's just way too warm. Instead, red wine should generally be served at around 16°C, with some types slightly warmer while others slightly cooler. And in wine terms this actually is called ''room temperature'' - you can even read it on the labels ''serve at room temperature (16°C to 18°C)''. So why do they call it ''room temperature''?

 

One theory that I've heard is that in old French chateaux in the 19th century the ambient temperature would be around those 16°C to 18°C. Really? That cold? Like they didn't have hearths? I'm not buying this.

 

Here's what I think:

 

Obviously since the English-speaking world is rather new to wine making, this instruction has originally been penned in some other language, probably French. If you read the French labels, they say ''servir chambré'', which sounds kind of different. Chambrer means, according to dictionary, ''to bring to room temperature''. The past participle implies that you're supposed to do something to the wine before serving it, that chambré is not the state it's normally in. I think they would store all wine - white or red -  in a cellar, where temperatures would be around 12°C. And for reds, they would bring the bottle to the room for an hour or so to warm it before drinking. While they wouldn't bring it completely to room temperature, they would bring it at least closer to it. And hence chambré, which got translated into English as room temperature and has been confusing everyone and ruining wines ever since.

 

What do you guys think?

 

Sticking to what the OT was talking and asking.........I believe it IS a matter of interpretation of the meaning behind the language. To "server chambre" actually correctly interpreted means "to let it stay in warm room for a few hours before serving, so it takes slowly room temperature". Another common place interpretation is "take the temperature of the room where one is staying".

The definition used for "chambrer" is "place a bottle of wine in temperature ambient to taste" which it then gives the synonym: warm and the English translation: to bring to room temperature. We can clearly see here that the English translation of 'to bring to room temperature' is a poor substitution for the real meaning of 'placing a bottle of wine in temperature ambient to taste'.

 

The French definition of "chambre" is "the room in which we can sleep" which takes us back to the times where one did not take wine in a proper dining setting but rather in the rooms one stayed in which happened to be where they were sleeping as well. So I agree that it harkens back to a time all of our technology and mis-interpretations had yet to exist. Also, as it still has the old world meaning and bad English translation behind it, we now understand that back in those days it was bloody cold where they stored their wares and the rooms only barely were better by the fires they lit to keep people somewhat warm. So the ambient temperature would not be above 15-18 degrees celsius AT MOST and the wine drunk for the majority of folk was pisswater to say the least......temperature be damned.

 

Over the years with our technology as well as education of mind and palate we have the better knowledge to know the who, what, when, where and how we would like our wines. It is an INDIVIDUAL taste that ultimately determines whether a wine should be at "so and so temperature" when serving. Some like it warm and some like it cold........to argue this is folly as you are not them and they you. To say it MUST be something (proper temperature) because "they" (whoever is making the rules at this point) say it to be so is just funny because there are over 7 billion people on this planet with all those tastebuds playing out........I am sure we will find a way to change the definitions of everything again as we go.

 

So I like the French translation of "servir chambre" and "chambrer" as they seem to dictate a personal preference rather than a hard and fast rule. Salut!! :thumb: 

 

@Steve TPHC  'A great oenologist insures that the grapes are picked at their prime even if that means they may be required to be picked vine-by-vine let alone row-by-row. The operation may extend over the course of days or even weeks. This is a strictly hand operation so only small vineyards can afford this attention to detail. The hand operation means the wine is made without caterpillars, green grapes, or beetles.'

 

I believe what you are meaning here is a great viticulturist NOT oenologist. As oenology is strictly the study of wine and wine-making NOT the growing and harvesting of grapes for wine.....that is viticulture.

 

As well just a note, tannins are determined on the vine not over the time it is aged in a barrel. This is also the job of a well trained viticulturist to be able to determine this by tasting the grape before harvest. ;)


Edited by Fablesable - 4/5/16 at 6:55am
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