Should Pinot Noir be chilled or room temperature?

Pinot Noir is one of the most popular red wine varietals, known for its light and fruity flavors. When serving Pinot Noir, one of the biggest dilemmas is whether to chill it or serve it at room temperature. There are pros and cons to each serving style that impact the wine’s flavor profile. Here’s a look at the key factors to help determine if Pinot Noir should be chilled or served at room temperature.

What is Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety that originated in Burgundy, France. It’s known as one of the more difficult grapes to cultivate but produces elegant, light-bodied red wines. The name “Pinot” comes from the pinecone shape of the grape clusters. Key characteristics of Pinot Noir include:

  • Light to medium body
  • High acidity
  • Bright cherry, raspberry, plum flavors
  • Earthy, mushroom, mineral notes
  • Smooth, silky tannins
  • Medium alcohol content (typically 12-14%)

Compared to other red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, Pinot Noir has lower tannins and tends to be lighter in both color and body. It’s appreciated for its fruit-forward flavors and soft, supple texture.

What is the ideal serving temperature for Pinot Noir?

There isn’t one perfect serving temperature for Pinot Noir – it largely comes down to personal preference. However, the general recommended temperature range is between 55-65°F (13-18°C). Key considerations include:

  • Serving too warm (above 70°F/21°C) can make the wine taste flat and flabby.
  • Serving too cold (below 55°F/13°C) can hide the aromas and flavors.
  • 55-65°F highlights the fruity notes and softens tannins.
  • Cooler temperatures (55-60°F) accentuate acidity and earthiness.
  • Warmer temperatures (60-65°F) bring out more fruit character.

Ultimately the ideal temperature showcases the wine’s complex aromas and flavors while maintaining a smooth, silky texture. Cooler serving temps enhance tanginess while warmer temps promote fruitiness. Finding the right balance for your individual taste preferences is key.

Should Pinot Noir be served chilled?

When chilled to refrigerator temperatures (40-55°F / 4-13°C), Pinot Noir does change compared to serving at room temp. Here are some of the impacts of chilling Pinot Noir:

  • Pro: Can minimize perception of alcohol. The chill minimizes the aroma of alcohol, which allows more fruit notes to emerge.
  • Pro: Enhances brightness and acidity. Cooler temps increase the tart, zingy sensations of the wine.
  • Con: Subdues aromas and flavors. Chilling below 55°F can inhibit the release of aromas.
  • Con: Dulls texture. Lower temps make the wine feel sharper and less supple on the palate.
  • Con: Mutes the fruit. The chill curbs the perceptions of fruity red berry and cherry notes.

Chilling Pinot Noir is definitely an option and many people enjoy it served cooler. However, too much chill can limit the complexity. A light chill to around 55°F helps maintain vibrancy without suppressing aromatics and fruitiness.

Tips for chilling Pinot Noir

  • Chill to 55°F, not below 50°F to avoid muting aromas.
  • Only chill for a short time (10-30 mins). Don’t over chill for hours.
  • Use an ice bucket or sleeve rather than the fridge to regulate temperature.
  • Pop the bottle back in the fridge between pours if needed.
  • Different styles and regions may require different chill levels.

Should Pinot Noir be served at room temperature?

Room temperature, generally between 65-75°F (18-24°C), is a common serving style for Pinot Noir. Here’s how it impacts the wine:

  • Pro: Allows aromas to fully develop. Warmer temps let bouquet open up.
  • Pro: Enhances silky texture. The warmth showcases Pinot’s soft tannins.
  • Pro: Draws out fruit flavors. The mild warmth amplifies notes of cherry, berries, and plum.
  • Con: Can feel overly alcoholic. Heat increases awareness of alcohol on the nose and palate.
  • Con: May seem disjointed. Without a chill, flavors and body can become imbalanced.

Serving Pinot Noir at room temp (65-70°F) lets you fully experience the fruit qualities and plush texture it’s known for. However, too warm dulls refreshing acidity. Finding your “sweet spot” temp allows optimal enjoyment of its aromas, fruit, and silky tannins.

Tips for serving Pinot Noir at room temperature

  • Don’t serve above 70°F – it will taste cooked and boozy.
  • Target 65°F, then adjust up or down 1-2 degrees to your taste.
  • If too warm, chill briefly in ice bucket 10-15 mins to cool down.
  • Decanting helps open up aromas at warmer temperatures.
  • Serve a bit warmer in winter (~68°F), cooler in summer (~62°F).

How do you properly chill Pinot Noir?

Chilling Pinot Noir requires a bit more finesse than simply sticking it in the refrigerator. To chill properly without overdoing it, here are some tips:

  • Ice bucket – Chill for 15-30 mins in ice water to quickly drop temps without over-chilling.
  • Refrigerator – 45-60 mins may be needed depending on fridge temp. Avoid leaving more than 2 hours.
  • Wet towel – Soak towel in icy water, wring out then wrap around bottle to gradually chill to 55°F.
  • Wine fridge – Set to 55°F. Colder wine fridges may over-chill.
  • Sleeve/pouch – In the freezer briefly, then wrap around bottle to chill to ideal serving temp.

The key is regulating temperature and not simply trying to get the wine as cold as possible. Use a thermometer and taste occasionally as you chill down to 55-60°F. Remember it’s easier to make adjustments colder than it is to warm up an over-chilled wine.

Does vintage year affect Pinot Noir serving temperature?

The vintage year can impact the ideal serving temperature for Pinot Noir. Some guidelines include:

  • Young vintages (under 5 years) – Serve cooler (~55°F) to minimize tannic bitterness.
  • Medium-aged vintages (5-15 years) – Serve in lower 60s°F to balance fruit and earthiness.
  • Mature vintages (over 15 years) – Serve slightly warmer (~65°F) to emphasize softened tannins.
  • Very old vintages (20+ years) – Serve coolest (~55°F) to preserve fruit integrity.

The general principle is that older wines with resolved tannins can handle slightly warmer temperatures. However, Pinot Noir even 20+ years old should still not be served above 65°F. Infantile, tannic young vintages and fragile very old wines should be served cooler for balance.

Does alcohol percentage affect Pinot Noir serving temperature?

Wines with higher alcohol content often benefit from a slight chill to mask boozy aromas and reduce the warming heat of alcohol on the palate. For Pinot Noir:

  • Lower alcohol Pinot Noir (12-13.5%) – Serve at warmer end of spectrum, 60-65°F.
  • Average alcohol Pinot Noir (13.5-14%) – Cellar temp of 55-60°F adds vibrancy.
  • Higher alcohol Pinot Noir (14-15%) – Chill to 55°F to minimize alcohol perception.

In general, as alcohol levels increase serving slightly cooler helps balance the wine. Big, fruit-forward New World Pinot Noirs with 14%+ alcohol can be chilled down to accentuate the grape’s acidity and mask some alcohol heat.

How does glassware impact temperature for Pinot Noir?

The shape, material and thickness of glassware affects both aroma release and temperature retention. For Pinot Noir glassware:

  • Thin, delicate glasses promote aromas but chill quickly – serve at warmer end of ideal temp range.
  • Thick, heavy glasses retain heat longer – wine can be served cooler.
  • Wide glasses expose more surface area – chill just slightly to account for warming.
  • Narrow glasses concentrate aromas – serve at warmer temps for fruit to open up.

Consider the glass when choosing serving temperature. Thin stemware like Burgundy glasses may benefit from 60-65°F, while thicker Pinot Noir glasses can handle 55-60°F. Wide bowls need less chill than narrow flutes. Glassware impacts both perception of temperature and aroma/flavor release.

Does the climate or region influence Pinot Noir serving temperature?

Pinot Noir hails from cooler climate regions, but today it’s produced globally in diverse locations. Climate and regional style should guide temperature:

  • Cool climate regions – Burgundy, Oregon, Germany, Tasmania – Serve at lower end 55-60°F to retain vibrancy.
  • Moderate, coastal regions – California, Chile, New Zealand – Cellar temp 55-65°F adds fullness.
  • Very hot regions – Australia, South Africa – Serve cooler ~60°F to compensate for ripeness.

In a cool climate, Pinot Noir retains more acidity, so slightly warmer temps bring that out. Warmer regions develop riper, fruit-forward wines that can be served cooler to enhance lively acidity. Finding the right temperature for the style is key.

How does food pairing influence the serving temperature of Pinot Noir?

The food you’re pairing with Pinot Noir can help dictate the ideal serving temperature. Here are some food pairing notes:

  • Delicate dishes (fish, chicken) – Warmer temps (~62°F) let fruit shine alongside.
  • Heartier dishes (lamb, steak) – Slightly cooler (~60°F) cuts through richness.
  • Spicy cuisine – Serve cooler (~55°F) to tame heat intensity.
  • Cheese boards – Slightly warmer (~65°F) complements and enhances umami.

Lighter proteins and dishes work best when Pinot’s fruit can take center stage, calling for a slightly warmer pour. Heavier, fatty, or spicy foods require a chill to cut through the weight and heat. Finding the right balance with the meal is key.

How can you gradually warm an over-chilled bottle of Pinot Noir?

If Pinot Noir is served too cold, below 55°F, there are ways to gently warm it up:

  • Swirl the wine in the glass to introduce oxygen and release aromas.
  • Cup the bowl and gently cradle in hands to transfer palm warmth.
  • Set glasses atop a wooden surface to leverage ambient heat.
  • Place bottle in a warm water bath to slowly raise temperature.
  • Relocate the wine to a warmer spot in the room to naturally increase temp.

Avoid any jarring methods like microwaving or placing over heat, which can destroy the wine. Gently coaxing chill away allows Pinot Noir to open up properly.

Can you re-chill a bottle of Pinot Noir served at room temperature?

If a bottle of Pinot Noir is served too warm, it’s difficult to re-chill it effectively. Methods include:

  • Add some chilled wine to top off warmer glasses and moderate the pour.
  • Place bottle back in fridge/ice bucket, though it will take hours to re-chill.
  • Add an ice cube or two to glasses to gradually bring down temp (impacts flavor though).
  • Use a wine cooling sleeve to moderately re-chill individual glasses.

However, these approaches can dilute and disrupt Pinot Noir. It’s best to properly chill bottles ahead of time. Serving too warm dulls aromas, once exposed, they can’t be revived. Prevent overheating with proper storage and service to start.

How long can you leave a bottle of chilled Pinot Noir out before it gets too warm?

Chilled Pinot Noir gradually warms up the longer it sits out at room temperature. As a guide:

  • In an ice bucket – Remains properly chilled for 1-2 hours.
  • On its own – Loses ideal chill within 30-60 minutes.
  • In a fridge – Stays chilled 2-3 hours after removing.
  • Outdoor events – Warms up quicker, within 15-30 minutes.

To keep Pinot Noir chilled longer when out:

  • Use insulated bottle sleeves.
  • Return bottle to ice bucket or fridge between pours.
  • Maintain temperature with cooling wands as needed.
  • Pour smaller taste amounts if wine will be out awhile.

Monitor temperature and don’t let Pinot Noir sit out at room temp too long before returning to a chilled environment. Keeping it properly cool preserves the wine’s vibrancy.


Determining the ideal serving temperature for Pinot Noir depends on your individual taste, the wine’s style, vintage, alcohol level, glassware, and other factors. In general, a light chill to around 55-60°F accentuates acidity and fruitiness in most Pinot Noir wines. Moving slightly warmer into the low 60s can let more layered aromas shine through while maintaining a soft, silky palate. Drastic chilling below 55°F or serving above 65°F is not recommended. Experiment to find your personal preference within the cooler spectrum of reds. Pay attention to the wine and make small adjustments in chill level to optimize enjoyment of Pinot Noir’s delicate aromas, vibrant acidity, and supple fruity flavors.

Leave a Comment