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If the old adage that red wines should be served at room temperature continues to circulate, consider this your permission to serve your reds chilled. I’d also suggest you tell anyone pontificating about any essential rules of wine appreciation to cool it.
While I’m all for information that helps you feel more confident when it comes to buying or serving wine, I’m thinking you need to process all suggestions through a filter of whether they align with your enjoyment factor or not.
At this time of year, I like to pop my red wines into the refrigerator an hour before opening. Fifteen minutes in the freezer if I’ve failed to plan ahead, which is often. (Note to self: Set a timer for 30 minutes to make sure you don’t turn that bottle into a winesicle.)
A wine’s serving temperature has a profound impact on how it smells and tastes. Serving wine at the recommended temperature helps to relay its intended flavour and showcase its balance of aroma, flavour, alcohol and structure. Too cold and you’ll mute the flavours, too warm and you’ll be overpowered by the acidity, tannin and alcohol. Look for the Goldilocks ratio: a temperature that’s just right according to your taste.
I’m not a fan of wine thermometers, although I know some wine lovers love theirs. The only optimization I’m looking for is that the wine is enjoyable. I couldn’t tell you if that’s precisely quantifiable as 14 or 15 C for a pinot noir from the Beamsville Bench or Kelowna; I only know I enjoy them served cool, a condition which might vary on the season or my mood. I want them to refresh my palate.
Full-bodied reds, such as cabernets, syrahs or malbecs, are more appealing served slightly warmer. That could be served around 17 or 18 degrees or what might be considered chilled on my personal scale, say 20 or 30 minutes in the fridge. The bottle should feel cool to the touch as you bring it to the counter or table.
Wine will warm up in the glass whether it’s served cool or warm, so it’s better to start out cooler than your desired temperature. Pop the bottle back in the fridge or plunge into an ice bucket or available cooler as needed to keep it at the temperature that suits your taste.