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A restaurant served us a chilled bottle of red tempranillo. We insisted on having it at room temperature. Who was right?

The question

We recently had a bottle of Casa Solar Castilla Tempranillo 2014 at a restaurant in Burlington, Ont., and they brought it to the table chilled. We declined the chilled bottle and opted to have it at room temperature instead. It was decent enough but not great. Should it have been chilled?

The answer

It would be unusual to serve a wine like that cold unless you were, say, stopping for a picnic while driving through Death Valley, Calif., with a cooler in your trunk. The wine you cite is based on the red tempranillo grape, the prominent Spanish variety also found in the famous reds of Rioja. While there are indeed some red styles in the world that can generally benefit from a strong chill in the fridge, notably the light-bodied, crisp wines of Beaujolais (based on gamay), I would not place your wine in that category.

Most red tempranillos are medium-to-full-bodied and matured in oak – a profile classically designed to be served at room temperature – or, rather, cool room temperature. In fact, Cosecheros y Criadores, the winery that makes Casa Solar, suggests serving its oak-matured reds at 16 to 18 C, slightly cooler than typical room temperature of 22 or 23. That’s still much warmer than refrigerator temperature of around 4 degrees.

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