Via the Musings Over A Pint blog I was alerted to this article about the proper serving temperature for various beverages, including wine and beer. It makes some good points about why we serve wines at the temperature we do. I think most whites are best at about 50 degress and reds at about 60, give or take. Fuller-bodied reds are probably best at about 65 degrees. Of course, if I'm outside and it's hot I'll probably drink my white a bit colder.
I think the article is spot on about the beer serving temperatures. Some people will tell you to serve full-bodied beers, like Belgian ales or stouts, at 55 degrees. Here's the problem: Beer glasses, unlike wine glasses, have no stems. That means that the only buffer between the beer and your hand is the glass. And your hand is an excellent conductor of heat. If you serve a beer at 55 degrees, it will be considerably warmer than that by the time you're more than halfway through. 50 degrees, or even slightly colder, is better in my opinion. This is assuming you're drinking out of a pint glass, of course.
But I wouldn't agonize too much. The general rule is put your red wine in the fridge for 20 or 25 minutes before drinking it, and take your white out of the fridge 20 or 25 minutes before you drink it. That should be about right.