- Published: 29 November 2011 29 November 2011
I was at a friends party recently and there were other guests warming bottles of Rioja by the fire. Their reason being that there is nothing better than warm red wine. Maybe a warm glass of tinto with a vague hint of oak and alcohol is more desirable than I would give credit for but when it comes to desiring a glass of red wine at this time of the year, my mind thinks along the lines of spice and dark fruit with a hint of vanilla. There are many flavour profiles that tasters pick out which only exist within a certain temperature range. As soon as the wine starts cruising over 17C those flavours, aromas and expressions of the whole wine making process start to vanish. That is when we're left with just bland tasting alcohol.
With white wines, the problem is reversed. A white wine that is served too warm loses it crispness and structure. In wine speak, it can be described as "flabby". But the fear of serving warm white wine can often send us into the depths of our freezers in search of colder temperatures. White wine at around 10-13C will likely show it's best fruits and flavours if it has them to show. By over chilling the wine we add a layer of masking that blocks out just about any individuality and tantalising fruitiness the wine might possess. If the wine is awful and you have no alternative then chill the hell out of it, otherwise, let it drift up towards room temperature before imbibing.
Tip for the day: Don't overheat red wines and don't over chill the whites. If you order a bottle of red in a restaurant and it is too warm then say so and get a chiller. You'll be far happier when it opens up and reveals it's true self!
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