White House Tip: Chill Red Wine

White House wine pro Daniel Shanks answers the age-old question on what temperature to serve good red wine.


He's one of our favorite East Wing staffers, and now White House food and beverage manager Daniel Shanks is answering the question every wine newbie has: Is red wine served at room temperature or chilled? The simple answer: chilled. In the upcoming issue of White House History, the sommelier reveals that the old room temperature trick is old thinking.

"Red wines," he writes, "need to be slightly cool to the palate. With the tremendous fruit and varietal purity of today's wines, one of the most damaging mistakes to make is to serve a red wine too warm. 'Room temperature' is a misnomer coined when homes were less well insulated and cooler. We can all remember sitting in a fine dining room, ordering a long-anticipated wine, and having it arrive the temperature of bath water due to bad storage conditions. The wine presented muddled flat flavors, astringent with acid and devoid of life. We want the wine to speak to us of fresh fruit and crushed berry, not leaf and herb mulch."

He's just as opinionated on whites: chilled, not cold. "The old practice of chilling white wines to near slush grew from drinking poorly made wines," he writes.

You might remember another tip Shanks gave us a while back on how to decant reds.