Friday, September 18, 2009

Red, White and Room Temp - How do I decide?

Experts sometimes have a way of making ordinary things inaccessible to the average person.   I think this has happened with good wines over time.  We all know that white wine should be served chilled, and red wine should be served at room temperature.  But how cold is chilled and what room are we talking about?  I've heard the oenophile go on about how red wine should be served at approximately 57 degreees Fahrenheit, because that would be the approximate room temperature of a medieval castle...  Huh?  We all know how snobby those medieval wine drinkers were!  Nonetheless, I have to admit that when I was younger, and "in-the-know", I just kept both wines in the fridge.... that way the white would definitely be chilled and the red would be medieval-room temperature.  On a really hot day, I would chill things down with an ice cube or two!  Thankfully, my palate has improved over time and so has my treatment of a bottle of wine.

The best answer I ever heard to the question of "at what temperature should I serve wine?" is very simple and easy to remember:
White wine:  Chill in refrigerator at least a couple of hours, then remove from refrigerator and open 1/2 hour before you plan to serve it.  This allows the wine to breathe and the temperature will lower but still be chilled.  You can taste the difference between a glass of wine that is right out of the fridge and one that has been on the counter for 20 minutes or so.  The warmer, chilled wine reveals more complex taste and textures than the wine that comes right out of the fridge.  I recommend you try this yourself so you can taste the difference.
Red wine: Chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour before you plan to serve it.  Then remove it from the fridge, open it and serve within the next 5-10 minutes.  This slight chilling affects the red wine in a most positive way!  You can still admire the complexity of the wine, and the slight chill provides a refreshment that you might not get if the wine is strictly "room temperature", particularly if your room is warm.  Again, I would recommend you try red wine both ways, and see if you can detect the difference.

1 comment:

  1. I never heard of chilled red wine...thanks for the tip...will have to try it.