The Best Way To Drink Chilled Red Wine

News alert for red wine lovers: Yes, you can chill your favorite wines. In fact, many wine enthusiasts and industry specialists recommend doing so. Drinking red wines exclusively at room temp is outdated advice, and some reds even taste better when slightly chilled, according to Decanter.

Matt Walls, the Rhône correspondent for Decanter, suggests bypassing the type of grape or where the red wine is produced when deciding whether to chill it before consumption. It really all comes down to the style of the wine. The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov concurs, stating that, in addition to style and vintage, the decision on chilling red wine includes the weather/season and your own personal preference.

To make a break from the room-temp-only crowd of red wine aficionados, it's important to know the style and characteristics of your wine, how long to chill that bottle, and the ultimate time to sip it after cool-down.

Timing is everything

General consensus among wine professionals is that full-bodied (and expensive) red wines benefit more when consumed at room temperatures. Sarah Jane Evans MW, co-chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards, told Decanter that chilling works better for lighter, fruitier, refreshing wines due to how colder temps highlight tannins and oaky flavors. Candidates for chilling include pinot noirs, cabernet francs, and beaujolais, per VinePair.

The New York Times points out that while drinking red wines cold helps conceals flaws, it's more nuanced than that. An exploration of how temperature affects various red wines led by Eric Asimov revealed that chill factor is not quite as straightforward as previously assumed. Choosing three wines with different characteristics, the tasting team put them through an analysis of how cold temperatures affect them at varying stages.

The team chilled wines in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. But instead of waiting the typically recommended 20 minutes to taste the wines, they instead checked the flavors three times: immediately after removal from the fridge, 20 to 30 minutes later, and then again once the wines reached a light chill or room temperature. Results showed the taste of red wine was "frigid and flavorless" when consumed immediately after refrigeration but were still too cold after waiting 20 to 30 minutes (per The New York Times). The emerging recommendation by the tasters as well as wine-industry reader comments is to wait 45 to 60 minutes after chilling for red wines to reach optimum flavor.