Most of the enjoyment that comes from drinking wine involves its aroma. Taste only has four aspects – sweet, sour, salty, acid. The nose does the rest. Vapors are created as wine warms up, so the wine needs to be a few degrees below its ideal drinking temperature for this to work. Room Temperature is rarely ‘wine drinking temperature’ – if you’re in the Indian Ocean on a yacht, you hardly want 100° Chardonnay! How about Houston in July? Warmth makes white wines taste dull. Few homes are regulated to match wine-drinking temperatures.
So throw out the old “refrigerate all whites, drink all reds at current room temperature” adage. Here is a chart to indicate in general best temperatures for drinking wine at. Remember, though, that you also want to keep in mind the temperature of the room relative to this ‘idea temperature’. If your room is 60°F and you are serving a fine Burgundy, perhaps chill the Burgundy to 58°F to allow it a little warming up in the glass. Fridges do well for cooling a wine when necessary, but for warming I prefer to warm it with my hands, glass by glass.
If you run into someone hooked on Room Temperature, have them imagine drinking a fine ice wine in Barrow, Alaska in February. At that temperature, even a wine meant