Reefer Madness, Part One

When summer arrives, chilled white wines and roses come to mind. Problem often is our typically available refrigeration, while long in capacity, is sort on wine-friendly temperatures. Most white wine when served at beer/milk temp (i.e. your fridge at home and most coolers at the bar in most restaurants) is closed and dumbed down. It goes down easy (another problem in most situations) but aromas and flavors are severely muted. In another common “fine dining” example, a cellar temperature white is plunked in an ice bucket where it resides getting colder and dumber all the while until its chilly demise.

Rather than serve these wines at 42 degrees why not chill (warm) to 50-55 degrees and then let the wine warm over the course of the meal, perhaps placing on ice periodically to maintain temperature? This is easily done at home and surprisingly easy to affect in restaurants as well. A good to great wine at this temperature will almost always taste better!

For a trick that would make Grandma Bea proud, try chilling red wine. Old-school Grandma humor aside, this “trick” works beautifully in a cool climate in both summer and winter. Think about it, homes and restaurants are heated in winter to essentially near-tropical temperatures and chilled in summer to an even warmer (though relatively cooler versus seasonal outside temperature) level. Red wines nearly always show best closer to cellar temperature of between 58 and 65 degrees. How many homes are chilled to 60 degrees in summer? Well, in most summers anyway… You don’t need a wine geek’s dual-temperature eurocave to make serving appropriately chilled reds a reality.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: the next time you are serving a red wine stored at room temperature, place it in the refer for 15-20 minutes before your meal. The wine will show better and will reveal distinctive nuances as it warms to room temperature. Placing it on the ice or back in the cooler will maintain temperature. The best part about this is, if you prefer at room temperature, the wine will get there again! This is an entirely no-risk reversible process. But I’m willing to bet it will become a habit.

Now if you REALLY want to get serious about the effect of temperature on wine (especially on the wholesale and import side) check out this article from Jancis Robinson!
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