Few drinks are more refreshing on a hot afternoon than a glass of chilled white wine. Sauvignon Blanc or a steely Chardonnay are my go-to varietals when the warm waters of San Pablo Bay send anabatic summer winds racing over the Carneros. They blow past Wine Adventure base camp toward Sacramento like a freight train on fire, creating conditions that make sipping through a well-chilled bottle effortless, maybe two bottles. If friends are over, maybe three. Or four. As I make the rounds refilling my guest’s glasses, their hopeful eyes plead like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, I want some more.” Alas, it is for their own good that I usually pour just a small glass of chilled white wine.

I have nothing against a tall glass of wine. A tall glass is more efficient and popular among those of us who prefer to be objects at rest. But on hot days, pouring a smaller amount can be a matter of quality control based on the critical factors of ambient temperature, sip rate, and the preferred serving range of the beverage in hand. If we aren’t using a glass cozy or VoChill freezer-cooled cradle (see below) to keep our glass cold, a warm glass of wine can be a problem.

Simply put, wine tastes better when sipped at the proper serving temperature. Far too often, especially in hot weather, wine sits in the glass and warms above acceptable drinking temperature before we sip even half of it. This can lead to exposing faults or to soft mutterings of “why is John serving the cheap stuff?” If we serve wines at the proper temperature, perhaps within the range recommended in the WSET chart below, how long before ambient temperature warms our wine to the point where taste and aroma are negatively effected?

We can determine how long it takes wine to warm beyond proper drinking range in two ways. For sheer giggles, we can apply the simple differential equation we all remember from Liquid Thermodynamics 101:Differential equation for change of temperature

Or we can skip the math and grab an infrared thermometer like the Wine Mate pictured below to perform a quick study. Pour yourself a glass of wine chilled as you like it. Fill the glass to a normal level, which is usually where the bowl of the glass is widest. Note the temperature indicated by the thermometer.Wine Mate thermometer and CorkscrewSip at your normal rate. When down to the last 50% or so of wine you poured into the glass, measure again. Is the wine still within acceptable drinking range? When the day is hot, I’ll bet it’s not. Concerned that your sip rate will be influenced by participation in the experiment? Try the procedure on a friend’s glass without telling them what you’re up to. They may think you’re a kook, but don’t worry, the Wine Mate measures with an infrared light beam and won’t touch or harm the wine.

So, what are proper serving ranges for different types of white and red wines? Hat tip to instructors at Napa Valley Wine Academy for providing these WSET serving temperature guidelines.

Wine Serving Temperatures

Here are a few suggestions for maintaining proper serving temperatures on hot days.

  • Pour a small glass of chilled white wine that can be enjoyed before it warms
  • Chill the bottle to the bottom of the serving temperature range
  • Chill glasses to within the proper serving range of the wine
  • Between sips, place your wine glass in the refrigerator for a few minutes

Comments, suggestions? Please leave them below.

Happy sipping, cheers!

Products Mentioned In This Article

Products mentioned in this article are offered on Amazon and links for more information and to purchase these items are provided. Wine Adventure Journal is an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

The Wine Mate thermometer may be hard to find in retail, check out the equivalent AllTemp.

Try keeping your wine chilled between sips with the VoChill wine glass chiller, a convenient freezer-chilled cradle. I often use these on hot summer days. The stemmed glass model has two parts, the cradle and a removable stand that connects/disconnects quickly. A stemless model is also available for stemless glasses.