Temperature strongly affects the perception of edibles. Cold, in particular, prevents us from clearly evaluating all of their organoleptic characteristics, making them less scented and less tasty. This feeling is evident when we taste ice cream: as soon as we extract it from the freezer, it is way less tasty than when it starts to melt and drawing lines on our cone. Thus, we can say that serving temperatures affect the intensity of aromas and flavours of wine. The cooler the temperature, the less charming the aromatic profile of the wine will be. We will feel it flat.
Lower serving temperatures will exalt acidity, tannin and minerality of the wine, while on the contrary, higher ones will enhance the presence of alcohol.
This simple statement is enough in order to understand why red wines, especially the high-tannin ones, require higher temperatures, usually room temperature. If we cooled them down, they would result rough, unbalancing the overall profile of the wine and provoking too much astringency in the mouth. On the contrary, when it comes to white wines, in which tannin is almost absent, a lower temperature will exalt acidity and minerality, which are the most sought-after characteristics.
Sparkling wines require even lower temperatures, because carbon dioxide has a sour taste that tends to become unpleasant as temperature increases. Besides that, the presence of durable, persistent chains of small bubbles is a crucial quality attribute that we look for in sparkling wines. Low temperatures obstacle CO2 liberation, thus making the bubbles small and long lasting.
“Nobody’s perfect” stated Joe E. Brown in the popular Some like it hot end. The correct temperature of a wine will not make it perfect by itself, but it is a necessary condition in order to taste it at its best.