The rules for beverage temperatures go beyond serving red wine warm and white wine cold.
If your taste in beer and wine has graduated from light brewskis and cheap vino to more complex microbrews and $20 bottles, you may want to brush up on how to chill your bevys in order to get the best flavor.
Mini temperature-controlled wine cellars are pretty common these days, and they may be the easiest way to ensure a properly chilled drink. But if it’s not in your budget, consider adjusting the temperature on that old mini fridge leftover from college. You can also achieve the right temp with an infrared thermometer and a little bit of patience.
Get the most out of pricey vino
If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably in the habit of keeping white wines in the fridge and red wines in the cupboard. While it’s true that merlots and cabernets should be warmer than pinot grigios and chardonnays, the rules are a little more specific than you may think.
Storage temperature is key to maintaining the flavor of your wine. Avoid storing any kind of wine in an area warmer than 70 degrees. If all else fails, keeping your bottles in the basement or a low cupboard may suffice.
Reds that have a lighter body and flavor – like Chianti or Beaujolais – are best at 60 to 65 degrees, while full-bodied reds, which include Bordeaux and Cotes du Rhone, should be served at 63 to 68 degrees.
Keeping with the same basic rule of thumb, light, tart white wines should be around 48 to 52 degrees, while those with a more intense flavor can be served a bit warmer, at about 58 to 62 degrees.
If you’ve got a sparkling wine, like prosecco or even a fancy Champagne, it’s best served at between 50 and 55 degrees.
Save the frosty mugs for low-brow brews
Beer ads have made it so that people think beer should always be served at arctic temperatures, in mugs that look as icy as an igloo. But if your beer of choice is something complex like an India pale ale (IPA), a stout or a porter, low temperatures may inhibit some of the flavor and smell profiles. In fact, an article in Slate magazine suggests that ads touting icy beer are largely a gimmick created by big corporate brewers who produce relatively flavorless brews. (You know who we’re talking about.)
Craft beers that fall into the category of a pilsner, cream or blonde ale are typically best at about 40 to 45 degrees F. Ales that are bitter, pale, amber, red, Scotch or brown, as well as IPAs or imperial IPAs, should be between 50 and 55 degrees when serving.
If you’re operating sans a controlled temperature fridge, just remember to take your brews out of the fridge about a half hour before serving, and pour them into a room temperature glass.
When it doesn’t matter
If you haven’t the patience for all of this but are still over light beer and bargain basement wine, consider making cocktails with the beverages.