My good buddy NoStar likes his cheap zinfandel chilled to about 65F (18C). Some would consider that too cold but it is actually pretty close to correct.
We hear the term room temperature bandied about and the assumption is that this means the temperature of your dining room. Nope. Room temperature is really cellar temperature (about 55F & 13C) which is roughly the temperature found in natural and artificial limestone caves under French estates and wineries.
Robin Garr agrees that......
This is the ideal temperature at which ageworthy wines mature most gracefully in long-term storage. And, certainly in the centuries before central home heating and air-conditioning became commonplace, both red and white wines customarily were served straight from the cellar to thirsty diners waiting in drafty chambers where room temperature was probably not all that much warmer than the cellar.
Rule of Thumb for Serving Red Wine:
Quality red wines are best served comfortably above cellar temperature but sufficiently below modern room temperature that your glass will feel cool to the touch.
Practical Advice on Making the Rule of Thumb work:
Particularly in the summer when even air-conditioned room temperature is on the warm side, refrigerate your red wine for 30 to 45 minutes, or put in the freezer or ice bucket for 10 minutes or so. Don't worry about over-chilling: It won't take it long to come back, and the wine won't be damaged.
TWC's Hot Tip of the D ay:
If the wine you've been served is too warm, cool it off with a bit of ice. I know, you've heard that before but the trick is to fish the ice cube out with a spoon at the moment the wine is cool enough without leaving it in until it melts completely and waters down an otherwise nice glass of red.