Ask any number of wine professionals about the most common red wine faux pas, and you’ll likely hear the same answer nearly across the board: People drink reds at the wrong temperature. For many who enjoy wine at home, serving temperature isn’t a major consideration. Hell, sometimes we reach for a red wine instead of a white just because we can’t wait for the bottle to cool down. But if you’re looking to optimize your red experience, it’s important to keep temperature top of mind.

The ideal serving temperature for red wine ranges from about 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. And while it’s convenient to pop a bottle right off the shelf, room temperature is actually closer to 68 or 70 degrees, putting it outside of that prime zone. Serving red wine too warm can lead the alcohol to taste more pronounced to the senses, overwhelming the wine’s more complex subtleties. This can lead to the impression that the wine is inherently out of balance or flabby. That said, bars and restaurants frequently serve reds at room temperature, so it’s natural their guests may do the same at home.

Cooling the bottle to the proper temperature adds some much needed verve to the flavor profile, emphasizing the wine’s natural structure and lifting the bright fruit notes. But if you leave a bottle in the fridge for too long, that chill can end up masking the fruit flavors entirely, so it’s best to find a balance.

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So what’s the most efficient way to approach serving your red? First, take note of the bottle’s grapes and region, as the optimal temperature will differ depending on style. If you’re drinking a light-bodied red like a Gamay, Schiava, Trousseau, or even Pinot Noir, then consider chilling it to the lower end of the spectrum, closer to 55 degrees. Heavier reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, or Aglianico fare better toward the higher end of the range. Medium-bodied reds like Cabernet Franc or Sangiovese can fall somewhere in between.

These are best practices, but if you’re just looking to casually open a bottle without any fuss, just follow the handy 20-minute rule: Put red wines in the fridge for 20 minutes before drinking, and take white wines out of the fridge 20 minutes before drinking. That way, you don’t need a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled wine fridge to optimize your experience.

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