Between The Vines
To chill or not to chill
If I could, I would cook outdoors every day. In fact, I do grill year-round, unless we are experiencing one of our biblical rain events or on the rare occasion that it’s too cold for the propane to light. I love that I can make lots of fire and smoke and cook delicious messes like lobster dripping with butter or sticky, finger-smacking barbecue. And what is better than enjoying these communal, multi-napkin, forkless feasts with good friends and family at a long table, perhaps under some string lights as citronella candles glow, good music is in the air and great, simple wine is flowing like an open garden hose? Not much my friends.
Alas, what do I mean by “simple” wine? A simple wine, to me, is a splendid and very handy style of wine that matches a setting like that outdoor meal, for instance. It is thirst-quenching, lighter-bodied, lower in alcohol, chilled or cool to the touch and… abundant! Simplicity does not need to be a trade for quality or flavor. Many great wine producers make simple wines with gads of flavor, racy acidity, and intense aroma. The simplicity is in how the wine acts; playful, easy to drink and to metabolize, and above all… fun. The majority of wines that we associate as having this persona are unoaked whites from cool climates and pale, dry roses. However, there exists a spectrum of wines that offer a better experience when they hit your pallet at a lower temperature, including a vast spectrum of reds. Often, here at The Party Source, I hear my customers understandably getting hung-up on “rules” about what temperature a wine should be served. When it comes to chilling a wine, the answer is not as easy as to say, white, sparkling, and rose should be served cold and reds not chilled, as convention misinforms us. A wine, be it light white, golden in hue, light pink, a dark garnet rose or full-on red can be served at cooler, refreshing temperatures if it has the characteristics required for that chill to enhance its pleasure, rather than to reduce it. On the other hand, this same array of wines styles may be more pleasing nearer to cellar temperature. Wines better chilled, be they white, red, rose or orange need to be lower in alcohol, low in tannin, high in fruit, and higher in acid. The cooler temperature exacerbates the acid and freshens the fruit flavors, paving the way for an experience that begs for warmer weather, open outdoor spaces, and light fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. Exactly how cool or even cold to serve your wine is also a matter of preference. Too cold, and you actually repress that lovely fruit. The best way to go about this is to get to know the wine. Try it chilled, then note how the flavors and aromas change with the ensuing sips. As I have mentioned, over-chilling can be just as detrimental to your enjoyment of wine as serving it too warm. Classic examples of this are full-bodied, oak-aged whites that have viscosity and texture, aged Rieslings with their endless layers of thrilling taste, good Champagne, or full-bodied, oak-aged reds with loads of tannin and higher alcohol. Chilling these wines really closes the wine and will obliterate the deep, complex character of the wine. I like to think of these styles of wine as “fireplace wines” and should be served at cellar temperature which is in the low 50’s to low 60’s Fahrenheit. Again though, get to know the wine and make up your own mind as to which temperature makes you happy, compliments your food, and allows the wine to achieve is full potential. Here I’ve offered a small array of wines that I love, and at what temperature and with what foods you should try them. Enjoy!
Steve Tartaglia CS
Viallet Savoie Blanc 2018, Savoie, France - $14.98 |
Serve well-chilled, great with shellfish and enjoy early in the meal
A Domenica Rosato 2019, Tuscany, Italy - $12.98 |
Serve this delightful rose well-chilled as an aperitif
Lioco Sonoma Chardonnay 2018, Sonoma, California - $19.99 |
Serve just this side of cold, not over-chilled. Its a delight with creamy Fall soup and buttery dishes
Zum Martin Sepp Zweigelt 2018 1 ltr, Vienna, Austria - $13.98
Here’s a great example of a juicy red wine to enjoy fully chilled alongside light al fresco fare under the afternoon sun.
Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Barbara, California - $23.98 |
A benchmark wine for serving at cellar temperature, 55-60 F. Not only delicious to enjoy on its own, but also offers a great variety of food pairings from omega 3-rich fish dishes to light meat fare.
DNA Vineyards Coro Red 2017, Mendocino, California - $33.95 |
This big-shouldered, intriguing blend of Syrah, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel and Primitivo is ready for any main course you can throw at it when served just above cellar temperature.