So everyone knows that you're supposed to serve white and sparkling wine chilled. But red is supposed to be served at room temperature, right? Wrong. Red wine tastes best served at a temperature between 55º and 65º. The average room temperature is 70°: great for lounging around without your jacket, bad for red wine.
But what's the big deal? Why is that slight chill on the bottle of red important? Serving red wine at the ideal temperature allows the flavors to come through. The tannins and structure of the wine are more fully expressed, and subtle aromas are enhanced. When wine is served too warm, the alcohol becomes the central characteristic, overpowering the more enjoyable flavors and making even a good wine taste cheap.
So how do you get your wine to this perfect temperature? You can certainly stick the bottle in your refrigerator for about an hour (for lighter reds like Pinot Noir), 45 minutes (medium-bodied reds like Chianti) or 30 minutes (the big powerhouses like a bold Cabernet Sauvignon). However, this is a very imprecise science--your refrigerator is so much colder than the ideal temperature that it's very difficult to get the temperature right. At the very best, the wine will be unevenly chilled, with the bottle much colder than the liquid inside. If it's within your budget, the best option is a wine refrigerator with red-chilling capabilities.
One option that won't break the bank is this 30-bottle refrigerator by Avanti. Streamlined, it's great for small spaces, and it comes equipped with a digital touch-control for temperature, allowing you to tailor the cooling environment for a specific wine.
But the ideal system is something like this EuroCave Performance Elite (pictured). It has three temperature compartments: one for aging (53-57°F), one for chilling white and sparkling wine for service (40-44°F), and one for chilling red wine to the perfect serving temperature (62-66°F). This kind of specialized refrigerator allows you to always have a perfectly chilled bottle right on hand.
If you're someone who invests in your wine collection and takes pride in serving your carefully chosen and aged bottles, you don't want to overlook service. Chilling a perfectly aged red to the ideal serving temperature does justice to your collection.