Most people don’t know how to drink red wine to it’s full potential.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. They always make one huge mistake.
They go to the wine store, buy a bottle, take it home, pop the cork, pour a glass, and sit back to enjoy themselves in near total ignorance of how little pleasure they’re actually extracting from that lusty Syrah or luscious Cabernet.
The problem is a basic one: the wine is too warm.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been doing this for your entire wine-drinking existence. Almost everyone drinks red wine too warm.
So what temperature should your red wine be?
It should be between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the flavors of the wine will be sharp and fresh, and the wine’s textures will find full expression.
It’s no accident that 60-65 degrees is the ideal temperature. That’s what you’ll find in most European wine cellars. “Cellar temperature” — it’s not too hot, not too cold. Just right.
So how do you take a wine from a 70-75 degree room temperature (or higher) and bring it down the ideal “cellar temperature?”
Here are some quick hacks:
Refrigerate the wine
Juts pop the bottle into the fridge for about 15 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, the freezer is an option, but I don’t recommend it. It exposes the wine to too much cold, too fast. And the enemy of wine is abrupt temperature change.
Plunge it into an ice bath
Fill an ice bucket with ice and water. Then add some salt. This will chill down the wine in about 10 minutes or less. Just touch-test the bottle to make sure it isn’t getting too cold.
Plop an ice cube in the wine
Heresy! This is a last resort, but if you drop an ice cube in the wine and pluck it out a minute or two later, you’ll drop the temperature and not add much in the way of melted water to dilute the wine.
Use a chiller
A lot of wine shops have wine chillers that can quickly cool down a bottle of white wine. But they can chill a red, too. I’m not a huge fan because the temperature change is extreme and therefore potentially damaging to the wine, but it’s an option.
A cold mountain stream
There it is, running past your campsite. Nature has provided a wonderful cooling system for that bottle of Pinot Noir you packed in for five miles.
The great outdoors
If temperature outside is around 60 degrees, it will gradually cool a too-warm red wine in a fairly gentle manner. And of course if it’s cold and snowing, you have a vast exterior freezer.
Your home cellar
No, you don’t need a cave that looks like something from a wine collector’s dream. All you need is a cool, dark place where the temperature is a relatively constant 60-65 degrees. Keep your reds here and they’ll always be the right temperature.
A specialized wine cooler
They’re sold commercially with multiple temperature zones, for reds and whites. They function like a cellar, except that they aren’t dank and underground and full of spiders. They can hold anywhere from a dozen or so bottles to hundreds, and are priced accordingly.
So there you have it. Stop drinking your red wine too warm!
And FYI, you’ve probably been drinking your whites too cold! You should allow them to warm up before serving — and avoid chilling them until they’re icy. That kills flavor and can damage the wine. In fact, if you can, you should never buy wines that have been stored in a wine shop cooler. Chill ’em yourself at home.
By Matthew DeBord, Business Insider