Summer Sipping Tip: Relax and Chill (Your Reds)

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 6/21/18

In an industry wrought with rules – only whites pair with fish! – bending the rules of wine consumption is becoming increasingly hip. I was at a dinner recently where someone dropped a couple of ice cubes into their pinot grigio; I looked around -- no one batted an eye.

And pinot noir is my preferred wine with pretty much any fish, to be honest, even super light and flaky ones.
(Collective gasp from the wine snob section.)
One rule I’ve been bending more and more lately is chilling red wines down. We all know the rule: serve white wines cold and red wines at room temp. But the temp in the room goes up in the height of summer, making many reds seem flabby. What’s more, a red wine that’s just chilled and allowed to slowly rise during the bottle consumption process delivers several wonderful things
My wife began noticing this more and more at local Italian restaurants – that the bottle of red we ordered came to the table a lot colder to the touch than she was used to. At first, an eyebrow raiser. But then she began to tout the idea, because she found that the wine not only tasted fresher, was easier to sip and played nicely with our steamy pasta fare, but it evolved, too. New smells and tastes emerged as we mutually gulped our way through the bottle, and that made drinking the wine more fun.
My own eyes had already been opened, actually, by my friend, winemaker Larry Schaffer, whose label, Tercero, is a treasure trove of Rhone-inspired creations. At his Los Olivos tasting room, several of his reds are served with a bit of a chill. “Any wine will show different at different temperatures,” he tells me. And with his popular blend, Aberration, the sipping experience goes up when the serving temp goes down, and in a way that he prefers.
“My 2017 Aberration, which is a blend of grenache, cinsault and carignane, and which are all picked rather early, is quite fruity at room temperature,” he says. “When chilled, an earthiness from the 100% stem inclusion shows more prominently, as well as a ‘crunchiness’ on the finish that helps balance the fruit.” Suddenly, a colder version of the Aberration makes it more interesting.
Schaffer continues, “The challenge is that when you chill most reds, you numb them – the aromatics are subdued and the texture becomes muted. So it’s not an absolute situation.”
My friend, winemaker David Potter, just sent out an email to his Municipal Winemaker newsletter audience titled, “Ice Cold Red Wine.” It promoted three wines: a sparkling syrah, a grenache made from 80-year-old vines growing in Rancho Cucamonga and his popular, Rhone-centric Big Red blend, all sold as a three-pack, and shipped to your door, for $85. Potter tells the reader, “Chilling down [lighter-bodied reds] will show off the acidity, tannin, and overall refreshing-ness of the wine. Don't worry about the cold turning down too much of the volume on all that interesting wine, though.  If it's hot out, the wine warms up in the glass with a little time, and boom, flavor!  We pretty much always prefer to err on the side of freshness over loud flavor anyhow.
“Trust us, ice cold red wine is what you've been missing out on at those summer bbqs.”
So, slowly but surely, the word’s spreading. I know, nothing new here -- generations before us have been chilling their wine, regardless of color, to enjoy it better. Simple as that. But as more and more talented winemakers begin to promote their wines as better savored when a little colder, more and more of us consumers learn one more way to better savor what we sip.
Best ways to give your red a quick nip? Pop it in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes, or stick it in an ice bath for about 10.

Or put an ice cube in it – no one cares anymore.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the inclusion of my wine, Gabe! I'm really digging this wine as temperatures start to rise - and so are my customers! Cheers.