Chilling Red Wine?

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brouillyDrink white wine chilled, red wine at room temperature.  Isn’t that the first thing every wine lover is told?  But is it always true?  I’d say it’s not necessarily as simple as that.  To start with, you’re the customer – if you prefer your Chablis warm and your Claret straight from the fridge, why shouldn’t you have it that way?  (Just don’t expect me to spend time drinking with you!)

In the main, I prefer my white wines chilled, although not – as some people serve them – so cold that any taste is frozen out of them.  But, as for red wines, I think we need to look behind the idea of serving at ‘room temperature’.  When this suggestion was made – at least a century ago, as far as I can make out – central heating was rare and most living rooms were, as a result, far cooler than we expect these days.  In fact, they were probably around 18 – 20˚C (64 – 68˚F), an ideal temperature to serve most red wine.  That’s not so now when 22 – 24˚C (71 – 75˚F) is, perhaps, more common.  So, you might argue that you shouldn’t serve red wines at today’s room temperature but slightly chill them instead; I say slightly chill them, not reduce them to a typical white wine temperature.

But there are a few reds that, personally, I would choose to drink even a bit cooler than this – and those are reds that are well suited to the very hot, sunny weather we have enjoyed (or not!) in Bristol for the last couple of weeks or so: light-bodied reds such as Beaujolais, Valpolicella, some Loire reds and some Pinot Noirs can all benefit from a half an hour in the fridge to bring them down to, perhaps, 14 – 16˚ C (57 – 61˚F).  I find the chilling makes them more refreshing without masking the flavours.

But, that’s my view.  If you want to drink your reds at present-day room temperature, then there’s nothing wrong in that; as I said before, you’re the customer and the customer is always right! 

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About Bristol Wine Blog

Bristol Wine Blog is written by Ian Abrahams, a freelance Wine Educator, trading as Wine Talks and Tastings. Ian holds the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma, a high level professional qualification, and is a certified tutor for WSET. He runs courses for both professional and amateur wine lovers in and around Bristol including at Stoke Lodge (see the Bristol Adult Learning Service brochure or online at www.bristolcourses.com). You don’t have to be an expert or wine buff to enjoy Ian's courses, so long as you enjoy a glass of wine. Find him also on Facebook.com/winetalksandtastings.

3 responses »

  1. I have also received advice from growers in S Rhône where I go a lot, to serve some of theirs a bit chilled. In the heat, their sometimes high alcohol wines can be a bit much and alcohol overwhelms the palate. Judith

    On Thu, 12 Jul 2018 at 08:36, Wine talks and tastings wrote:

    > Bristol Wine Blog posted: “Drink white wine chilled, red wine at room > temperature. Isn’t that the first thing every wine lover is told? But is > it always true? I’d say it’s not necessarily as simple as that. To start > with, you’re the customer – if you prefer your Chablis warm an” >

  2. A totally new grape to me that is best served lightly chilled is the 2016 Villa Blanche Picquepoul Noir from Waitrose, lovely redcurrant flavour with a soft tannin bite. Described as a “Cépage Anciens” it has plenty of charater.

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