Tag Archives: chilling wine

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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Wine For Summer

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The temperature touched 30˚C (86˚F) in Bristol last week – a reminder that summer is here – something that’s often quite easy to forget in our climate!  And, for my wife and me, summer means a different style of eating: salads, yes, but also lighter, fresher dishes that are easier to digest.  And, of course, the wines to match.

I’ve often said in this Blog that food and wine should be equal partners with neither dominating the other.  So, with lighter dishes, I look for lighter wines.  Not necessarily lighter in colour (although whites and rosés do often go better with summer dishes than reds), but lighter in body.  Chunkier styles – and that usually means higher alcohol bottles – stay on the shelf in favour of more delicate wines, those with plenty of fruit and good acidity.

Many whites fall into this lighter category – the main exception being those which are strongly oaked – as do almost all rosés; if you’re not usually a rosé fan, try one gently chilled on a warm summer’s day, especially something from a good producer in the south of France – I’d be surprised if you’re not convinced.

Reds can be a bit more of a problem; many are quite high in alcohol these days and, when you add in oak ageing and significant tannins (both features of many of the best reds), they’re not that well-suited to warm weather.  But choose carefully – look for something refreshing, a wine that can be chilled lightly without ruining it – and the picture looks very different.  Try a Loire red, or one from Germany or Austria, a Valpolicella (avoiding the ultra-cheap examples) or, perhaps most reliable of all, a Beaujolais from one of the 10 named villages or Crus*.

From this last group, we found that Henry Fessy’s Brouilly (Waitrose, £12.99) fitted the bill nicely. 

BrouillyDelicious, clean, refreshing cherry fruit with attractive hints of bitterness, quite light in the mouth (12.5%) and really lively and welcoming after a half hour in the fridge.  Just perfect for a warm summer day – but that was last week; what a shame it’s back to sweater weather today!

*(The 10 Beaujolais Crus are: Brouilly, Côtes de Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour).