When it comes to serving and enjoying wine at its optimal taste, the temperature in which the wine is to be served is one of the simplest and yet one of the most important steps you can take. But a lot of people miss this very common rule, and there are a lot of people who actually miss out on optimal flavors and qualities in great wine, just because the wine was opened and served either too warm or too cold. To answer some of these wine temperature questions, let’s first take a look at the very basics of serving, pouring, tasting and enjoying a glass of wine.
Why chill wine?
Much like storing your wine, keeping your wine at a constant, cool temperature will help to bring out and enhance the wine’s unique flavors and aromas, when opened. But it is very important that your wine is served at the right temperature! It is a common misconception that red wine should always be served at room temperature – this idea is actually misunderstood. When wine was first created, it was stored in underground cellars, which are always slightly cooler than room temperature. But, that being said, when a wine is served too cold, you are going to miss out on all those important flavors and aromas, because they have been too muted by the cool temperature.
What does chilling actually do to the wine?
As the temperatures rise from a pour of chilled wine into a glass, the character of wine will develop into its full potential, where the taster will be able to enjoy the full spectrum of aromas and flavors. When the wine is chilled, the optimal flavors and aromas of the wine are put into a dormant state, which slows down the aging and oxygenating process in the bottle.
What temperature should I serve my wine at?
It depends. Whether your wine is a sparkly French Champagne or a lush and bold California Cabernet Sauvignon, the optimal serving temperature varies by a few factors, including the color of the wine, the body or texture of the wine, and more. Here are a few quick guides:
Full Body Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chianti, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Merlot
Full-bodied reds should be stored at below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but no lower than 45 degrees. The optimum temperature for storing full-bodied reds is between 60 – 65 degrees F. When serving a glass of full-bodied red wine, it should be served on the cool side. This is contrary to the popular belief that red wine should be served at room temperature. Think about it! As we said above, when wine was first created, it was stored in underground cellars and brought up to serve at slightly cooler than room temperature. So when you are drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner, be sure to pop it into the fridge for anywhere from 15 – 20 minutes while you’re cooking.
Full Body Whites: Chardonnay, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, White Bordeaux, White Rioja
Store and serve full-bodied white wines cold, ideally around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. When serving cold white wine such as these and light-bodied white wines, be sure to serve it in a glass with a stem. The glass should be held by the stem, so as not to let the hands warm up the wine, if they are holding the glass by the bowl. Storing full-bodied white wines in the refrigerator right up until the moment of serving is perfectly acceptable – in fact, once you have poured, you should really stick a wine stopper in the bottle and put the wine back into the refrigerator, if you can. If you are unable to do this, an ice bucket is another great alternative.
Light Body Reds: Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Gamay, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Zweigelt, Lambrusco, Some Rosé
Served at a slightly cooler temperature than red wines with medium or full bodies, light bodied reds like the ever popular Pinot Noir optimally should be stored around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and served cool. So if you choose to store a light bodied red wine in your fridge (which is acceptable, but you should probably store it in the door so it doesn’t get packed into the cold, say in the back of the fridge or the crisper drawers – storing in the door gives it a rush of warmer air every time the door is opened), be sure to take it out of your fridge about 30 minutes before you open it.
Light Body Whites: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, Pinot Gris, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Some Rosé, Moscato, Pink Moscato
Serve light-bodied white wines cold, and store them in the refrigerator or in your basement, if you live in a colder climate. Served cold in a glass with a stem, light bodied white wines should form a nice fog of condensation on the glass when they are poured. And much to the chagrin of wine snobs around the world, an ice cube or two in a glass of very light-bodied white wine never hurt anyone – try it in the summertime, it’ll change your life! An ice bucket is optimal for an opened bottle of light bodied white wine, but if you don’t have one available, pop a wine stopper in and put it back in the fridge until you’re ready for the next glass.
Sparkling Wines: Brut Champagne, Brut Rosé, Sparkling Wine (USA), Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Moscato D’Asti
Sparkling wines such as Champagne and Cava should be stored and served at the coldest possible temperature, definitely the coldest of the bunch. 42 degrees Fahrenheit is a perfect temperature to store Champagne and sparkling wine. In other words, keep it in your fridge at all times! This is another wine that does best with an ice bucket after the wine bottle has been opened, as well.
We at WineBaskets.com hope that you find these wine tutorials helpful and informative, and most of all, we hope that your next bottle of wine is the best you’ve ever had. Find a fantastic wine library, wine accessories and enjoy sitewide free shipping always, at WineBaskets.com.
Knowing how to pair your wine with the food that you’re eating may seem like a confusing and daunting task, but there are just a few tricks you need to learn, and pretty soon you will be pairing like a pro. If you are wondering what wine goes with dinner tonight, follow these simple steps! This blog, entitled Six Rules for Perfect Pairing, goes into much more details, but it really can boil down to six very easy to remember rules.
Whether you’re enjoying a few steaks or chicken off the grill on a balmy summer evening, you’re serving up a hot stew that’s been roasting in the slow cooker all winter’s day, or you’re just ordering pizza from the neighborhood parlor, the simple and easy to follow wine guides below will help you know which wine is going to bring out the flavors of your food best, and which foods are going to complement your wine in turn.
Rule 1: Match the richness of the food to the body of the wine.
Rule 2: Match the acidity.
Rule 3: Don’t let the food overpower the wine, or the wine overpower the food.
Rule 4: Offset heat (spicy) with sweet.
Rule 5: Serve your wine at the right temperature.
Rule 6: Match the regional cuisine to the regional wine.
You’re Ready To Pair!
Here’s a helpful list of recommendations and suggestions to get you started. Here at WineBaskets.com, we got together with our in-house Sommelier Christine to get her recommendations on wine pairing by cuisine.
Which Wine Goes With Dinner Tonight?
Few simple pleasures in life are as comforting as Chinese take-out. And when it comes to wine pairing, here is an opportunity to really knock it out of the park. Chinese food varies a lot between meat or no meat, spicy or mild, fatty or light. Remember the rule above – pair heavy with heavy, light with light. So if you are having a dish that is on the heavier side, such as broccoli beef or sesame chicken, opt for a richer, fuller-bodied wine such as Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. For lighter, mild dishes, say, vegetable lo mein or shrimp fried rice, try a light-bodied white. Since these dishes aren’t spicy, it can be on the dry side!
For Heavier Chinese Dishes, ex. Moo Shu Pork, Broccoli Beef:
For Lighter Chinese Dishes, ex. Mushroom Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice:
Walnut Shrimp? Try a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.
Anyone who has ever eaten (or simply smelled) Indian food knows that the dishes are full of flavor! When you are eating Indian food, the most important rule of thumb is to match the wine to the sauce, not the meat (or main ingredient, if you’re eating vegetarian, ie. paneer, potatoes). For example, Tikka Masala’s main ingredient of the sauce is tomatoes, which makes it highly acidic, while Korma’s sauce is creamy and rich, made of cashew powder and heavy cream. The sauce (and Indian food is all about the sauce) determines the wine that you should drink. Another aspect that factors into wine pairing with Indian food is the spice-heat. Commonly, many Indian dishes have some level of spiciness, or at least are made up of a lot of intense spices. Overall, a wine that is on the sweeter side is going to complement the Indian heat better than a dry wine.
- Riesling (especially German)
- American Rosé / White Zinfandel
- Gamay (better known as Beaujolais, a light-bodied red)
- Grenache (another light-bodied red)
Italian / Italian-American Cuisine (and Pizza, too!)
This is one of those cuisines where the sixth rule above really works great. Match Italian wines to your Italian food and you can hardly go wrong, especially if you can match the wine region. Many Italian dishes are tomato-based sauces, so pairing them with wine that is also high in acidity will do the trick (see Rule # 2 above). Again, this is one of those meals where you would match the wine to the sauce before you look at any of the secondary ingredients. A perfect example is chicken parmigiana – yes it is chicken, but you would never want to serve a light sweet white wine, because the chicken is coated in tomato sauce. Match the wine to the sauce!
For tomato-based Italian food, ex. spaghetti, lasagna, red sauce pizza:
For less acidic Italian fare, ex. fettucine alfredo, caccio e pepe, mushroom risotto:
- Full-Bodied White Wines
- Light-Bodied Red Wines
- Pinot Grigio
- Rosso di Montalcino
- Some Chardonnay
Mexican food can be a little bit tricky to pair, but it is safe to say that you can follow the first five main rules above pretty well here, along with pairing latin American wines for that hot-climate flavor. For starters, a lot of Mexican food has a fair amount of spice to it, say for example pollo verde (green salsa chicken) or enchiladas. This is one of those cuisines where you do want to stick to the common rule of white meat, white wine, however, not necessarily red meat, red wine! Confused yet? Wine Folly has a ton of excellent suggestions for different Mexican dishes to pair with wine!
Because of our great melting pot of a country, American food is steeped in influences from all over the world, especially France and Germany. While the general pairing rules usually stick – white meat, white wine / red meat, red wine, the first five rules above are equally as important. And as for the sixth rule of region-matching, you can follow that pretty well by looking at the influence of the dish, too! Here’s a really easy chart to follow – click on the image to enlarge and print it out for yourself!
Even More Helpful Wine Advice from the Experts at Uncorked
How to Properly Store Wine
How to Use a Decanter
Which Glass Is Right For My Wine?
Welcome to Wine Wednesday! What better way to get over the hump of a busy work week! Let’s explore and learn about a great wine! From Chardonnay sipped on a casual evening to a rare Cabernet for special occasions, each week we feature a wine available in our gifts. We’ll speak to the history of the makers behind the bottle, and we’ll tell you all about the flavors to be had inside.
This Week’s #WineWednesday – Boundary Post Ranch Kestrel Pinot Noir
About This Wine:
An agile falcon with keen eyes, the American Kestrel glides on cool winds that flow from San Pablo Bay, guarding the rows of Mitsuko’s Vineyard where Pinot Noir vines are nurtured. This Napa side of the Carneros AVA provides the ideal climate to produce some of the most engaging examples of Pinot Noir. The marine winds, low yield and long, flavor-building hang-time enables the fruit to reach peak flavor maturity and deep, concentrated flavor.
On the nose, enjoy baking spices, red raspberries and rose petal aromas. Lush flavors of dark cherry and wild earthiness round out this medium-bodied Pinot with an elegant, balanced acidity.
100% Pinot Noir
Food Pairing & Cellar Suggestions:
It is recommended that this wine is decanted for 30 minutes before tasting. Mouthwatering and vibrant, this silky Pinot Noir makes an excellent companion to a rack of lamb with fresh rosemary, garlicky mushrooms roasted in butter, or a cheeseboard carrying aged farmhouse cheddar.
Have you had a chance to taste Boundary Post Ranch? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments below. If not, tell us about your favorite Pinot Noir and why you enjoy it!
Welcome to Palate and Plate, where noteworthy wines meet their match. Here, we pair the exceptional wines from WineBaskets.com with delicious companion recipes, creating dishes that are seemingly born to complement the lush flavors and aromas of a great glass of wine. Each wine and food pairing is meant to be a harmonious wine-and-dine experience from the very start of cooking process to that last indulgent bite. We hope you try some of these fabulous sommelier-selected pairings, and have fun cooking, eating and sipping with loved ones.
Opus One Overture keeps with the tradition of the great Bordeaux estates, perfecting its blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. Overture displays a vibrant garnet color with expressive aromas of fresh red fruit. Notes of bright cherry and red currant are underpinned by more earthy tones of ground cocoa, cedar and vanilla.
Extended barrel aging gives Opus One Overture an elegant texture, perfect for roasted red meats, so today we’re pairing it with melt-in-your-mouth tender Slow-Roast Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Sumac Onions, a delicious and exotic recipe from Bon Appetit.
What You’ll Need
1 lamb shoulder, bone-in, 6-7 lbs.
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. sumac
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup fresh parsley with stems attached
How To Prepare
Season lamb generously with salt and pepper; place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.
Toast peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes; let cool. Finely grind in spice mill or with mortar and pestle; transfer to a small bowl. Mix in paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg, then rub all over lamb. Chill uncovered at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
Let the lamb shoulder sit out on counter at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 275°. Transfer lamb to a roasting pan and pour in 3 cups water. Cover tightly with foil and cook, turning lamb over and rotating pan halfway through, until meat is almost falling off the bone, 3–3½ hours. Remove lamb from oven and turn up heat to broil (or to highest heat if you have a drawer-style broiler). Discard foil, transfer lamb to a cutting board, and pour off liquid in pan. Return lamb to pan; roast, uncovered, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss onion, lemon juice, and sumac in a small bowl with your hands, squeezing the onion a bit to soften. Just before serving, toss mint, parsley, and a pinch of salt into onion mixture. Serve lamb topped with onion salad.
Are you having a hard time figuring out what to eat with wine? By following these six rules of wine pairing, you’re sure to create food and wine magic.
Rule #1 🍷 Pair Bold with Bold, Light with Light. Serving meat as your main course doesn’t automatically mean “pour the Zinfandel”. If the protein you’re serving is on the lighter side like seafood, poultry or pork, it should be paired with a light-bodied wine. But light-bodied doesn’t always mean white wine! Many red wine varieties are famed for their lightness, including Pinot Noir, Barbera, or Gamay. Most seafood – shellfish, salmon, flaky white fish – pairs well with whites, but heavier, meatier fish (like tuna steaks or swordfish) or fish that really tastes like the sea (think anchovies) pair perfectly with light-bodied reds. Big flavors like steak and red sauces, or powerful spices like paprika and cumin call for fuller-bodied red wines such as Zin, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. While it’s a white wine, Chardonnay is still considered full-bodied and goes great with heavier sauces like Alfredo or Hollandaise. Overwhelmed yet? Not to worry – just follow the title of this rule, and if you’re looking for a quick guide to glance at, check out this awesome chart by Wine Folly.
Rule #2 🍷 Balance the Acidity. Let’s say you’re dipping crusty bread in balsamic vinegar, having tacos with pickled red onions on top, or serving a salad with creamy, tangy slices of goat cheese. When the food you’re eating has that certain bite – you know the one – that tang that makes your jaws tingle and your mouth water? Pair it with a wine that also has an “acidic tang” to it. Sauvignon Blanc (especially New Zealand Sauv Blancs), Albariño and Garganega are dry white wines with high acidity. Higher-acidity reds include Sangiovese and Pinot Noir, which go great with acidic tomato sauces.
Rule #3 🍷 Don’t Let The Wine Overpower the Food (or Vice Versa). It’s all about finding balance. Perfect food and wine pairing starts at the characteristics of a wine and the components of a dish. These tried-and-true methods will consistently make for great pairing: the wine should be sweeter than the food, the wine should have the same flavor intensity of the food, bitter wine + fatty food, sweet wine + salty food, and it is always better to match the wine to the sauce rather than the meat. No matter what you’re serving, when cuisine is served with a perfect companion wine, where neither one dominates the other, you’re guaranteed to make food and wine fireworks.
Rule #4 🍷 Offset Spicy Food with Sweet Wine. Spicy cuisine such as Thai, Indian or Mexican needs a sweeter wine that has a little bit of sugar to cool it off. Sweet wines such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner and even Moscato (all whites) are sure to take the edge off of those hell-ishly spicy dishes like Pad Prik, Vindaloo or Salsa Verde Chicken. Avoid wines that have high oak (such as Chardonnay) which can detract from the food. And definitely avoid high alcohol content (such as Bordeaux), which can actually accentuate the heat negatively – ever had a spicy meal turn painful? No fun. Stick to wines with an ABV under 12%.
Rule #5 🍷 Serve Your Wine at the Right Temperature. You wouldn’t serve cold chili con carne, right? Just as the food you serve is piping hot, chilled to perfection or whatever the recipe calls for, serving wine at the appropriate temperature enhances not only the wine, but the food you’ve prepared, too. Champagne and sparkling wine, Rosé and most (but not all) white wines should be served chilled, between 45 – 49ºF. A misty fog of condensation should form on the glass when it’s poured. It is a common misconception that red wine should always be served at room temperature – this idea is actually misunderstood. When wine was first created, it was stored in underground cellars, which are always slightly cooler than room temperature. Red wine is meant to be served on the cool side, somewhere between 55-63ºF. This handy blog from Kendall Jackson has a really helpful chart that shows when you should stick your wine in the fridge before pouring!
Rule #6 🍷 Match the Cuisine Region to the Wine Region This isn’t much of a “rule” so much as a fun option that adds a little more interest to the table. There’s something to be said about grapes from the same region as the cuisine – they’re destined to be enjoyed together! So if you’re serving beef bourguignon, pour on the French Bordeaux! Having Paella? A deliciously dry and fruity Rosado from Spain will make all the flavors pop. And pizza night is just calling for a bottle of Chianti.
Spring is upon us, and with that come the backyard get-togethers. Here at WineBaskets.com, we can’t think of anything better than a sunny spring afternoon spent on the deck among the blossoming trees, sipping on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Of course it doesn’t have to be Sauv – here are our favorite wines to sip this spring, along with some party-worthy appetizer pairings to bring out the best in your wine.
Our first pick is Benziger Family Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay. It’s a medium-bodied, well-balanced Chardonnay with mouth-watering fruit and lively acid. Flavors of lemon, apple, pear and apricot pop on the palate, before subtle, creamy butter and meringue notes and a luscious, refreshing finish. We love this Chardonnay, especially paired with the blonde apricot chocolate bar from Amedei Tuscany, in the California Tasting Tour Wine Basket. This basket not only includes Benziger Chardonnay, but three more bottles from fabulous California wineries, ready to stock your cellar.
Next up is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best Pinot Gris from Elk Cove. Giving off sweet and light aromas of citrus blossom and grapefruit, this creamy and lush wine offers lovely apple and pear flavors, while showing crispness on the palette. Medium-bodied and balanced, this white wine is perfect served with the wild-caught smoked salmon in the Wines of the Pacific Northwest gift basket.
Let’s move on to the reds with another Washington wine – Chateau Ste. Jean’s Soiree Red Blend. Vivid aromas of blackberries, fresh plum and chocolate follow through to rich flavors of black cherries, fresh berry pie and notes of black tea. The wine is well structured with a juicy mouthfeel and a full, lingering finish. Sip this luscious red wine with some dark chocolate, like the 72% Godiva tablet in the Winemaker’s Estate Gift Basket.
Another red wine we’re loving this spring is Oregon’s Erath Pinot Noir. It’s in the Pacific Northwest version of our Coastal Cove Wine Case gift, and we definitely recommend that you pair it with a berry tart!
And lastly, what kind of spring party is it without a little bubbly? Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Brut Cuvee is a stylish sparking wine from Washington, crafted in the classic French method. Crisp yet delicate flavors of apple, pear and citrus give way to toast and tangerine on the finish. Michelle Brut is the perfect accompaniment for salty snacks like calamari and caviar, or sweets like chocolate oranges.
No matter what you serve and sip this spring, we hope the season is filled with good wine, great friends and even better memories. Visit WineBaskets.com for even more unique and memorable wine gift ideas, and give a toast to generosity!