It’s time to step up your entertaining game! Serving your wine at the perfect temperature or stemware is an art – get it right and you maximize the wine’s aroma and flavour, get it wrong and it can ruin your experience. So make your next soirée (or after-work tipple) a success with these serving tips.
Bubblies benefit from chilling. Keeping them at 5-7°C helps preserve the bottle’s effervescence, bringing out its fresh citrus notes and acidity. With vintage Champagnes, serve a bit warmer, 7-10°C, to enhance those toast and biscuit notes.
Time in fridge: Up to 2 hours before serving.
Stemware tip: The tall, thin flute is designed to highlight Champagne’s fine, yeasty bouquet, concentrate its creamy textures and preserve its effervescence.
Our pick: McWilliam’s Markview Brut Cuvée
Light, Dry Whites
Serve at 7-10°C. Tip: The lighter the wine is in colour and style, the colder it should be served to maintain its acidity and freshness.
Time in fridge: 1½ hours.
Stemware tip: A stemmed glass with a U-shaped bowl captures and distributes the wine’s floral and fruity aromas. The rim directs the wine to the front of the palate, balancing acidity and fruit, and the small opening keeps the wine cooler.
Our pick: McWilliam’s McW 480 Tumbarumba Pinot Grigio
These are best slightly warmer than light whites, between 8-11°C, because of their complex fruit flavours and mild tannins. Since rosé wines can be produced from a number of varieties with different characteristics, the same rule as light, dry whites applies: the lighter in colour and style it is, the more chilled it should be.
Time in fridge: Up to 1½ hours.
Stemware tip: A stemmed glass with a bowl that’s slightly tapered at the top works best for mature, full-bodied rosés. A slightly flared lip benefits younger, crisper and sweeter rosés. The lip directs sweetness to the tip of the tongue, where taste buds are most sensitive.
Our pick: McWilliam’s On the Grapevine Rosé
Serving these complex whites at 10-13°C enhances their layered aromatic characteristics and rich flavours. Tip: The less oaky the wine, the closer to 10°C it should be served.
Time in fridge: 1 hour.
Stemware tip: The classic Chardonnay glass, stemmed, with a rounded bowl and wide rim dispenses the acidity and bold flavours evenly to the back and sides of the tongue. This wider-bowled glass, similar to a red-wine glass, can also be used for older vintage or well-oaked whites.
Our pick: McWilliam’s Single Vineyard Tumbarumba Chardonnay
Light- to Medium-Bodied Reds
The vibrant aromas and flavours of these reds are best highlighted at 12–15°C. If poured too warm, their luscious fruit flavours will taste tart and acidic, ultimately overpowering.
Time in fridge: 45–60 minutes.
Stemware tip: A Chianti-style glass, stemmed with a slightly tapered rim, best accentuates light-bodied wines that are fruit and mineral forward with buoyant acidity. A wider-bowled Pinot Noir glass is perfect for more complex, medium-bodied wines with delicate qualities.
Our pick: McWilliam’s McW 660 Reserve Tumbarumba Pinot Noir
There’s a misconception that big reds should be served at around 20°C, a temperature that allows the alcohol to dominate flavour. When served at the proper temperature, 15–18°C, full-bodied wines reflect a lush mouthfeel, rounded tannins and well-balanced acidity.
Time in fridge: 25 minutes.
Stemware tip: Big, bold wines need wide-bowled glasses with a greater surface area. It allows the wines’ high acidity, rich fruit and oak characteristics, and alcohol to breathe and sit in proper balanced.
Our pick: McWilliam’s McW 480 Hilltops Shiraz
Again, the lighter in colour and style, the cooler it should be served. Delicate tawny Ports are best enjoyed at 13–15°C.
Time in fridge: Up to 45 minutes for the lighter styles.
Stemware tip: Because fortified wines have higher alcohol levels than still or sparkling wines, the ideal glasses have short stems and small bowls. The narrow, short opening dulls the alcohol while enhancing the sweetness and subtle nuances on the nose and palate.
Our pick: McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Grand Tawny 10yr Old
Keep in Mind
Time in fridge reflects a starting temperature of about 22°C, or room temperature. If your bottles are stored in a cellar or wine refrigerator, chill your whites and reds for 30 minutes. Serve the whites immediately. Let your reds sit at room temperature for another 30 minutes before serving.
Use a bucket filled with equal amounts ice and water to chill wines that were resting on a rack. White wines should be chilled for 20 minutes and red wines should be chilled for 10 minutes before serving.
Decant young, tannic reds and old-vintage wines for about 30 minutes. The young wines’ tannins will soften, and secondary characteristics will shine through. Aged wines with loads of fruit character and heavy oak treatment will open up and express a well-balanced mouthfeel.
And once you’ve poured the perfect glass, don’t forget to cheers!
This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on WineEnthusiast.