WINE O’CLOCK: A spell in the cooler works for reds as well as whites
To chill or not to chill? That is the question. The answer is that a little spell in the fridge is good for many wines, including reds. Just don’t overdo it.
Don’t use your refrigerator as a wine store. And that goes for whites as well as reds.
White wines, Champagne in particular, are very sensitive to temperature and leaving them too long in the fridge will ruin the flavour and spoil the bouquet.
I’m not, I must admit, speaking from experience. In my house, no opened bottle of wine ever lasts long enough to be a problem and my fridge is so full of rubbish there is no room for unopened bottles.
But people who know about such matters say an hour to 90 minutes is enough to bring most whites and sparkling wines down to the ideal serving temperature of about 8C-10C, a bit higher for heavier wines, such as white Burgundy, which taste best served at around 14C.
This isn’t an exact science and you don’t need a thermometer or a stop-watch to get it right. Just stick the wine in the fridge an hour so before you intend to drink it. If the bottle hasn’t been emptied, take it out of the fridge, stick the cork back in and keep it somewhere reasonably cool – or invite me to help you finish it off.
Irish people tend to be a bit shocked at the idea of chilling reds, but it is done as a matter of course in Spain and the south of France, and many wines are better for it.
Our weather may not suggest much need for chilling but centrally heated homes often have room temperatures that will push wines above the ideal limits.
Light reds, such as Beaujolais and Pinot Noir, take best to the treatment and can be served around 14C – twenty minutes in the fridge will do it, ten minutes for heavier Burgundies and the like.
A spell in the cooler improves the wine and also helps meet changing tastes. There was a time when we drank lukewarm beer and served soft drinks at room temperature. Nowadays we expect everything to be a little cold and wine is no exception.