Question: “What is the best serving temperature for white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc?” A.M., Orinda, CA
Answer: White wines should be chilled to your taste, so I encourage experimenting to find the right temperature for wines you drink regularly. As shown in the chart below, WSET guidelines recommend chilling light whites wines more and heavier wines less. I often drink French white Burgundy (and California equivalents) close to room temperature, around 60 degrees F. This is a little outside the recommended serving range, but I find that it brings out more of the wine’s features in both nose and palate. Ask a Briton why they drink ale warm relative to the American preference of ice cold and the reason will be about the same. Sauvignon Blanc, being much lighter, is generally served well-chilled. It is possible to over-chill and block some of the taste, so a floor of 40 degrees F should be considered.
Chilling wines to the right temperature becomes moot if the wine is not served properly. This is especially true with lighter white wines. My post Pour A Small Glass Of Chilled White Wine explains how wine can warm quickly in the glass on a hot day, erasing the care that went into chilling the wine properly before serving. Try the experiment I describe in the post.
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