Flavour and Temperature


No doubt many Marjico Wines’ Friends are well experienced in this subject, but these observations may further that interest.

The everyday domestic refrigerators tend to operate at 1-4°C so any white, sparkling or rose wine that comes straight away to a glass will indeed be within this range.

So that this temperature your taste buds will indeed be chilled as well, thus diminishing the flavours.

Looking at taste buds physically they can be thought of as very small succulents with leaves that come from the base. When the chilled wine flows over them they close up, restricting the fullness of flavours.

In fact Pinot Gris at 1-4°C can taste quite bitter, while at 7-10°C the same wine is rich, full of fruit, with abundant weighted flavour.

Many would know that the European tastes suggest the 7-10°C for sparkling wines, as well as white wines and rose. For full bodied rose very much the 10°C.

Just a warning – do not pre-pour these wines as they can warm up quickly, especially sparkling wine.

So how do you judge the temperature in the glass?

Well, by guess and experience. Knowing when you will serve the wine is a great start, and removing the wine about 15 minutes before serving will allow the chill to come off but still be cool.

Secondly, use a thermometer. This with time and experience will give the answer.

I have seen the recommended sparkling wine temperature at 12-14°C, but this seems extreme. No doubt there is a lot of flavours at this level but are they enjoyable?

Well that is very much up to each consumer. Red sparkling would be OK, but white?


There is the accusation that “Australians drink their whites too cold, and their reds too warm.”

Maybe that has some truth to it and only trialling will give the answer to suit your personal taste.

Personally my wine room is set at 18°C for all wines.

Why so high? Well I want my wines to mature before I do!

Those of us who suffered chemistry lessons at school will remember the old rule of “The speed of any chemical reaction is directly proportional to time and temperature.” As the maturing of wine is indeed a “chemical reaction”, this rule applies to it as well.

So if you want your red wine to live twenty to forty years and still be young and fresh, just store them at 8°C like so many of the European cellars!

For red wines a general rule is 18-20°C or even 22°C, over that they tend to be a bit fat and the alcohol lift is rather obvious, especially with the high alcohol reds.

The structure of the wine also plays a part with the lighter styles, Pinot Noir in particular, being better presented at 20°C than higher.

If required, and wanting more lift, just wait 8-10 minutes after pouring.

Humans have a “comfort zone” around 24-26°C so the wine should be fine after a few minutes.


Here is a real challenge!

With so many styles and varieties it is quite an exercise to “get it right.”

Here again a thermometer and experience is a great help.

“Sticky wines” can range so widely in sugar content; in botrytis level (or non- botrytis); great depth of flavour as they age and change; and grape variety.

Not all are white wines – some Ratafia styles are indeed made from red grapes.

Some are aged in oak – most are not.

Some need decanting because of age and deposit (just make sure the decanter has been chilled as well).

Here again I recommend 7-10°C and keep tasting tiny sips as the wine warms, for these wines have truly magnificent flavours which become apparent so quickly.

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