Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wine Serving Temperature

Momma was asked what someone should do with wine that they had put on the kitchen counter in bright sunlight, it had sat there for a long time.
Momma Explains: Take that wine and go christen a boat, you do not want to be drinking that !

Wine is a fairly complex potion and it is affected by sunlight, heat, low and high temperatures plus many other internal and external components. Each grape, each wine is best served at a temperature which will enhance not mask its qualities, or in the case of the sun drenched kitchen
" COOK" the wine into nothingness.
Serving white wine straight out of the refrigerator makes them taste like water. Wine is aromatic, it involves not only the sense of taste but the sense of smell. Your refrigerator is set at between 35 - 40 degrees F. The only wine that you would serve close to that temperature is ice wine , served at about 43-44 degrees F. Okay now don't panic and think you need to go buy a chemistry thermometer. Most whites can be served fairly safely at 45 -55 degrees. Chardonnay is served at the 55 end while Champagne is best at about 45. There is room for discrepancy but don't over chill your whites. Just let them stand out at room temp for awhile. So doing my mental math ( I won't bore you with the formula for degree rate of increased temperature) Take your white wine out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Wine will warm up in the glass, in the room and in the hands. In Momma's family it does not spend much time in the glass or hand.

Red Wine is the most abused wine around. Red wine is often complex and higher in alcohol than white so if you serve it at room temperature, ( given room temperature which is really about 70 degrees F.), then let it sit in a glass and then wait a bit, UGH, it is ruining the whole bouquet, complexity and flavor. The wine is not meant to be served at room temperature. That whole idea originated prior to insulation and controlled heat. Years ago people actually had cellars, cold, damp places that were about 55 degrees and they stored their wine and some root vegetables there. In those earlier times a home was cool compared to our homes. So room temperature as the term originated was really closer to 60 degrees F. Now, I know most of you buy your wine the day of your party, that is fine . Just cool your red wine down before serving by putting it in a basin with ice and water ( water helps the cooling process) but I will not be giving a lecture on thermodynamics at this time. Just stick your bottle of red in an ice/water bath for about 30 minutes, especially if it has been sitting around your 70 degree home all day or in a store. There are charts available to tell you ideal serving temperatures for red wine, and though there is disagreement among connoisseurs, this is a quick version of consensus. Beaujolais, Port, and Chianti at about 55-59 F. Rioja, Pinot, Bordeaux and Shiraz at about 61- 65. This is a rough chart but it will give you a general idea as to the potential that temperature can have on your wine experience. You could even experiment on your own with friends and start with the wine at a lower temp then let in warm up as it sits out and try it again, eventually as you manage to drink the entire bottle of wine you will realize there was a point at which the wine was more enjoyable. Personally, I do like my Chianti cool as it rounds the acid but locks in the flavor to accompany my favorite Italian dishes.
Just remember, Whites do not get served directly from the fridge and Reds do not get served directly from the counter. Wines have so much flavor to offer, serve them at the right temperature and for goodness sakes, go out and buy the large size wine glasses. Those pathetic shot glasses with a stem that they serve at many a wedding are not going to help you appreciate all a wine's nuances.
My favorite glasses are Riedel but the large stores like Sams or Costco sell a cheap alternative that will do just fine. If you are drinking wine then you deserve to be enjoying all the aspects that make wine so delicious. Remember " Sorrow can be alleviated by a good sleep, a bath and a glass of good wine ", Saint Thomas Aquinas.

1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness for this post! I'm always unsure about the temperature at which to serve various wines. Love this blog! I'm totally addicted.