Key Concepts

Sources of Water

For centuries, humans have been drinking water at the natural temperature of its source or storage facility. Only recently have we begun manipulating water's temperature. The temperature of most underground cellars where wine is traditionally stored is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13°C).

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with consuming any wine at this temperature, but most wine enthusiasts will agree that manipulating the temperature can enhance the drinking experience. For example, you may like to serve your champagne at a refreshing 42°F (6°C) and your Bordeaux closer to 64°F (18°C). The narrow range of temperatures between these endpoints serves the whole spectrum of wines, with all its intricate tastes and aromas, and is the basis for an endlessly evolving dialogue of wine and food pairings.

Curiously, 55°F (13°C) is also the temperature of many springs or wells. The temperature similarity between cellars and springs shouldn't be surprising since both are located underground. Serving all waters at the same temperature, say 55°F (13°C), will nicely show their differences. A slight increase in temperature will have a calming effect on waters with more prominent, louder bubbles. In general, the colder the water, the more focused it will be. If you drink water too cold, you'll lose the experience as all you taste is cold and not the character of water. When we conduct water tastings where we want to experience the full range of taste in water, we do so by having all waters at the same room temperature.

A simple experiment will show you how much temperature influences the taste of water. Buy six bottles of low- or medium-minerality still water, label them 1 to 6, and put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When you're ready to taste, take out bottle 1 and keep it on the counter. Notice the time and take out bottle number 2 exactly 10 minutes later. Continue to take out the next bottle every 10 minutes. After one hour, you should have bottle No. 1 at about room temperature and bottle No. 6 straight out of the fridge. Now, taste the waters and you'll see how much the temperature influences the taste.