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Different Wine Temperatures

Why do different wine tastes come to the mouth, at different temperatures of the wine?
Answer From Expert Roger Bohmrich MW

This is an intriguing question. A biochemist would probably do a better job explaining the phenomenon in technical terms, but let me try in a more basic way. It might be helpful to say, first, that temperature governs many chemical reactions. In terms of wine, a very low temperature will lessen the release of volatile substances; that is, many of the aromatic compounds which are fundamental to the pleasure of wine. When you take a sip of that same cold wine, it will at first seem more muted and comparatively flavorless. If you hold the wine in your mouth for a few seconds and do not swallow, you will notice far more of the aromatic elements which make up a large part of what we call taste. The acidity and tannin, if any, will be accentuated with a chilled wine, imparting what tasters call a "hard" impression: sharp and astringent. The alcohol and sweetness will, conversely, be less noticeable. Up to a point, a wine consumed at a warmer temperature will be both more expressive and softer in texture. This is the reason there is a "sweet spot" in temperature for each wine at which all its best qualities are revealed. You can experiment with this idea yourself by serving the same wine (white, rosé or red) chilled, cool, and at room temperature. In the end, your palate will judge when it tastes best.

About Our Expert

Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with a leading European company. Previously, he served as senior executive of importers Frederick Wildman & Sons. In recent years, Roger has judged wine competitions in Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, China and the U.S. Roger is one of America's first Masters of Wine.

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