Do You Chill Cabernet Sauvignon?

Karen Frazier
Hand holding glass of red wine.

People frequently ask the question, "Do you chill Cabernet Sauvignon?" Temperature plays an important role in the enjoyment of wine, and both storing and serving wine at the appropriate temperature preserves the wine and brings puts its best foot forward.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Many wine regions around the world grow Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to make world-class wines. Major Cabernet Sauvignon growing regions include Bordeaux, Tuscany, Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa, California, and Washington.

Do You Chill Cabernet Sauvignon?

There are two aspects to chilling any wine: storage and serving temperature.

Storage

Cabernet Sauvignon wines contain tannins that give the wine structure. The presence of tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon makes it a wine that ages well, particularly Old World style wines from Bordeaux. In some cases, you can age Cabernet Sauvignon wines for decades to allow the tannins to soften and the wine to develop its full complement of flavors. Because Cabernet Sauvignon wines age so well, storing them at the proper temperature is essential. If the wines are too warm during storage, they may lose flavor prematurely or become cooked. When storing wines for several years, temperature, light, humidity and vibration all play a role, so it is best to store age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons in a temperature and humidity controlled environment away from vibration. Rapid changes in temperature can also harm wine you are aging, so it is important to maintain a steady temperature that varies no more than a few degrees at a time. The ideal temperature for storing Cabernet Sauvignon wine is 52 degrees fahrenheit or 11 degrees centigrade, although the wine will far well in temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees fahrenheit (five to 18 degrees centigrade), provided there are no fluctuations in temperature. A wine refrigerator provides a good storage option for aging wines.

Serving Temperature

While many people believe that room temperature is ideal for serving red wines, this is actually a myth. Red wines flower into full flavor at a temperature that is slightly cooler than room temperature. For full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, the ideal serving temperature is 60 degrees fahrenheit (16 degrees centigrade), although the wine's flavors will present well anywhere between 55 and 65 degrees fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees centigrade). For wine that has been properly stored, this means you need to warm it up slightly by leaving it at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If the wine has been stored at room temperature, you will need to cool it slightly by refrigerating it for 30 minutes.

Maintaining Temperature

As you drink the wine, it will warm slightly, causing subtle changes to the wine's character. To maintain the temperature of the wine as you drink it in order to allow it to warm to room temperature more slowly, hold the wine glass by the stem. When you hold the wine glass by the bowl, your hand warms the wine more rapidly.

The answer to the question, "Do you chill Cabernet Sauvignon?" depends largely on your storage temperature. If you store the wine at room temperature, then you do chill it. If you store it at the appropriate temperature, then you will need to warm it slightly. In that way, you can enjoy all of the wonderful flavors found in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Do You Chill Cabernet Sauvignon?