Categories: Wine School

Sommelier Q & A: Ideal Serving Temperature For Sparkling Wines

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Sparkling wines, especially Champagne, are some of the most prized and celebrated wines in the world for their opalescent shimmer and delicate yet distinctive bouquets ranging from from citrus, stone fruit, apple, pear to toasty brioche, bread crusts and spices.

Why Does Serving Temperature Matter?

Temperature and Aroma

The temperature affects the the aromatic qualities of the wine. Red, white, and sparkling wines all have distinctive notes. Serving them at the right temperature will ensure you don’t miss any.

Think of your wines like a flower or a piece of fruit. As it ages and ripens, the flavors and aromas deepen, intensity, and then die.  On one hand,  if the wine is too cold, you won’t smell anything at all.

If it’s too warm, you’ll lose the fresh, bright, herbaceous, fruity, and vegetal notes that add to a wine’s complexity. This goes for white wines and red wines too.

The Science Behind Aroma and Temperature

Volatile aromatic compounds are released into the atmosphere when their protein binds break, which happens with temperature rises. This is why winemakers use controlled temperatures when crushing grapes, especially for white wines, as the aromas are mostly present in the skins, which are filtered away more quickly in white wines.

Temperature and Acidity and Effervescence

Acidity and effervescence are defining characteristics of sparkling wine. They contribute to the fizzy sensation that makes fine sparkling wines so special. As temperatures rise acidity fades and bubbles burst and evaporate more quickly, bot both of which can make the wine feel flat.

Ideal Temperature Range for Sparkling Wines

As a general guide, serve sparkling wines between 47-50 degrees Fahrenheit or 8-10 degrees Celsius.

Any colder and you might numb your taste buds or feel an unpleasant sharpness from the acidity.

How to Chill Sparkling Wine Fast

When unexpected company shows up or you simply can’t wait to open that bottle, try these these time-tested methods for chilling wine.

Ice Bath With Salt

  • Submerge the bottle in a bowl or bucket of ice and salt. Why it works: Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water. You should have a perfectly chilled bottle of white wine in 20-25 minutes, and a red wine at ideal serving temperature in as little as 10!

The Wet Towel Method

  • Wrap the wine in a wet towel and place in the freezer. Why it works: In theory, the water evaporation contributes to a drop in temperature, just like perspiration. Unfortunately this only works in a empty very dry freezer that isn’t cluttered with ice cream cartons and freezer burned leftovers you’ll never eat. Watch the clock. Bubbles bottles will burst if they freeze.

Can You Drink Frozen Champagne?

It’s a game of chance really. Sure, it’s drinkable, but it’s highly unlikely that all of the original flavors will be intact. Wait for it to thaw and in the worst case scenario, use if for an Aperol Spritz or a Champagne Cocktail!

Watch a video!

We always get questions about this around the holiday season. Check out this fun and informative video about keeping your sparkling wine just cool enough. Cheers!

Annie Shapero

Certified sommelier and DiVino founder, Annie believes that the language of wine is more than vocabulary. It is history, culture and most of all, storytelling. She created DiVino as a writer, educator, and wine consultant to bring those stories to life and give people the tools to join the conversation. Watch her free, 21-episode introduction to wine tasting on Youtube, 21 Days to Wine.

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