Choosing a good red wine isn't helpful if you serve it poorly. Good wines can be undermined by being served poorly while mediocre wines can really shine if served correctly. Knowing how to best serve red wines depends most upon the choice of wine glass and the temperature of the wine. The correct temperature allows the wine's flavors and aromas to come out best without being overpowered by acidity or alcohol. The correct wine glass allows you to best experience those flavors and aromas.
Glass Sizes & Shapes for Red Wines
Red wines are best served in glasses that are 12 to 16 ounces, though some red wines do even better in larger glasses — up to 24 to 30 ounces. This is a larger size than what is typically used for white wines, 10 to 16 ounces and quite a bit larger than what you'd use for port, sherry, or whiskey.
As a general rule, red wines require glasses that have the widest bowls. Because red wines are made with the grape skins, they can have far more complicated compounds in them than white wines which are made without the skins. It is easier to appreciate all of a red wine's complex aromatic compounds with a glass that makes it easier for you to entice those compounds out of the wine.
With a larger bowl, you can pour more wine into the glass while still being able to swirl around quite a bit. It's important, though, that the top of the glass become narrow rather than remain broad. A narrow rim ensures that the air in the glass, now filled with the wine's aromatic compounds, doesn't quickly escape. This allows you to put your nose in the glass and breathe in the mixture.
Red Wine Temperature Guide
Red wines are typically served a little bit warmer than white wines and a common rule of thumb is that red wines should be served at "room temperature." This principle is misleading because it originated a couple of centuries ago when room temperature was cooler than what people today are accustomed to. The best serving temperature can vary a bit based on the wine and grape varietal, but in general red wines should be served between 57°F and 68°F, 13°C and 20°C.
Drinking red wine at the wrong temperature will significantly impact the intensity of the aromas and quality of the flavors. Red wine that is too cold usually produces far less aroma than it is capable of while the taste will be too dry and bitter. Red wine that is too warm, in contrast, will taste too strongly of alcohol, with the more subtle flavors being completely overwhelmed.
|Red Wine Temperature Guide|
|Red Wine Type||°F||°C|
|Rosé & Blush Wines: |
White Zinfandel, White Merlot
|Lighter, Fruity Red Wines: |
Barbera, Gamay, Grenache / Garnacha, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo,
|Stronger, Complex Red Wines: |
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Syrah / Shiraz, Zinfandel
|Dark Sherry & Port||62-68||16-20|