We have always been accustomed to chilling our white and sparkling wines before drinking them, so how about red wines? And do we really need to chill all white wines?

In the tasting notes for most red wines, the recommendation is to serve at room temperature; however, Hong Kong is in a subtropical area which is hotter and more humid than Europe. In fact, the ‘room temperature’ mentioned is based on the European standard is around 20 degrees, so with the relatively hotter Hong Kong climate, it is advisable that we chill our red wine in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before consumption.

Wine tasting is, after all, a very personal experience, which can be vulnerable and easily swayed by surrounding atmosphere. In simple terms, if the temperature is higher, the taste of alcohol will become more obvious and the astringency from the tannin stronger; on the contrary, if the temperature is lower, it will hinder our sensitivity to taste and smell, making the aroma seems bland and less complex.

Since low temperature will have an effect on flavour, red wines with a heavy body should not be chilled for too long. But for those with a thinner body or are slightly acidic, such as Pinot Noir and Barbera, setting them slightly chilled will make their taste more refreshing.

Similarly, white wines that have been chilled will taste less acidic or sweet and the body lighter, while the aroma will become less obvious.

To determine the serving temperature for different wines, I suggest categorising by wine body. Here are references for some red and white wines, and champagne.

6°C – 8°C Sweet and Sparkling Wines Ice wine, Champagne
8°C – 11°C General White Wines and Rosé White Wine, Rosé, Sauternes
12°C – 13°C Low-Alcohol Red Wines Beaujolais, Lambrusco
14°C – 16°C Medium to Light Bodied Red Wines Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Barbera
17°C – 18°C General Red Wines Bordeaux, Rhône, Napa Valley


When not chilled, the aroma of both red and white wines will be amplified and drinkers will be able to savour the complexity in taste. In conclusion, whether you chill your wine or not, the most important thing is that you find a wine you like.

As for storage, I recommend a temperature range of 12°C -14°C for your wine cooler but remember not to change the temperature too often so that the storage time can be prolonged.

Next time you can try chilling your wine for 15 minutes first and enjoy slowly until it returns to room temperature. At first, the tannin would be less evident and easy on the taste buds but gradually and layer by layer, the aroma and fruitiness will grow stronger and more prominent.

So is there a specific routine for wine tasting? Let us discuss next week!

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