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We all know the rule or have at least heard it time and time again: Serve red wines at room temperature.

But some rules are meant to be broken or simply redefined.

Historically this rule originated from wines being stored in damp, cool cellars in European countries long before the advent of central heat and air.

These cellars, while they were not climate controlled, were typically between 60 to 65 degrees. Except for those with cellars, it’s very unlikely an average American home has a constant temperature this time of year in that range. We also are in situations where we buy a red wine in a retail store, get home for dinner and immediately uncork the bottle and consume a warm red wine.

Of course, I am not recommending throwing a vintage Bordeaux in the freezer for a couple of hours or dropping in a few ice cubes when serving. But 72 to 78 degrees — the “room temperature” range of many homes in the summer months — is far too warm for serving wine. I like to use the word “cool” when describing how red wines should be served. Too many of us are drinking red wines too warm.

If you are privy to a cellar or wine cooler, you most likely have no worry in the correct cool temperature of your red wines. But for the rest of us, here are a few pointers about how to get red wines from the average temperature of 70 to 75 degrees (or hotter) in most homes to a cool, ideal range of 65 to 68 degrees.

  • A quick bath: Fill a wine bucket with ice and water. Add a pinch of salt. Put your bottle in the bucket for about 3 to 5 minutes, any longer and the wine may chill too much. Be aware this method may damage the wine label if left in the bucket too long.
  • Pop it in the refrigerator: One of the easiest methods is to simply put the wine in the refrigerator for about 30 to 45 minutes. If you are looking for a slight cool-down, just set in for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Let your central air conditioning do double duty: Place the wine on its side over a floor air vent for several hours. This method may take a bit longer than other methods but is an easy cooling technique. (During summer months, storing your everyday drinking wines near air vents will help keep the bottles cool.)

These are a couple of red wines easily enjoyed cool and refreshing.


  • 2014 Concannon Pinot Noir, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2014 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France (about $18 retail)