When most people think of wine, they envision it served at the perfect temperature, either slightly chilled for whites or cellar temperature for reds. But there are occasions when enjoying wine warm can be equally delightful. From cozying up on a winter evening to sipping wine at room temperature to appreciate its full spectrum of flavors, there are many reasons to explore the world of warm wine. In this article, we'll explore five ways to drink wine warm and why you might want to try it.

1. Room Temperature Red Wines

While serving red wine at room temperature is a classic practice, it's essential to clarify what "room temperature" means. In many modern homes with central heating and cooling, room temperature can often be cooler than the ideal serving temperature for red wines. To enjoy red wine at its best, aim for around 60-68°F (15-20°C). If your wine storage area is cooler than this, consider taking the bottle out an hour before serving to allow it to warm slightly.

2. Warm Wine for Mulled Wine

Mulled wine, a delightful winter tradition, involves heating wine with various spices, fruits, and sweeteners. The warmth not only infuses the wine with these aromatic flavors but also provides a comforting, cozy experience on cold evenings. The most common base for mulled wine is red wine, often a robust, fruity variety. We typically use our Merlot or a Sangiovese.

3. Heated Wine for Cold Weather

In some countries, particularly those with cold climates, warm wine is a seasonal specialty. Variations of warm wine or "glühwein" can be found in Germany, where it's a staple at Christmas markets, and in Scandinavia, where it's called "glögg." These beverages are typically prepared with red wine, spices like cinnamon and cloves, and sometimes a dash of spirits like brandy. They're served piping hot to keep the chill at bay.

4. Warm Dessert Wines

Dessert wines, such as Port, Madeira, and certain late-harvest sweet wines, can be incredibly satisfying when served warm. The gentle heat enhances their rich, syrupy textures and intensifies their sweet, nutty, or fruity flavors. To warm dessert wine, use a water bath or heat it gently in a saucepan. Ensure you don't overheat or boil it, as this can alter the wine's character.

5. Experimenting with Warm Whites

While white wines are typically enjoyed chilled, some wine enthusiasts have begun experimenting with serving certain whites at warmer temperatures. For example, lightly oaked Chardonnays or aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Viognier can reveal more complex aromas and flavors when served slightly warmer than the usual refrigerated temperature. Aim for around 55-60°F (12-15°C) for these experiments.

Wine doesn't always have to be enjoyed at the conventional temperatures we're accustomed to! Exploring the world of warm wine can provide unique sensory experiences, transform a traditional bottle into a cozy winter treat, or reveal hidden facets of your favorite vintages. Whether you're indulging in mulled wine on a snowy evening or experimenting with warmer serving temperatures for whites, the key is to strike the right balance that enhances the wine without compromising its integrity. So, as you sip your next glass of wine, consider stepping outside the bounds of conventional serving temperatures and raising your glass to the delightful world of warm wine.