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Off The Vine

Serve wine at its ideal temperature

There is all kind of controversy concerning the art of wine appreciation. The current hot issue is: how cold a wine should be when being served. There are two schools of thought about the optimum temperature of wine at the dinner table. We understand that the colder a wine is when being consumed, the more the flavors, especially the nuances of wine, are subdued.

There used to be a joke going around the wine industry about marginal restaurants and their use of average to poor white wine served &

by the glass&

or &

glass pour&

at the noon and evening dinner hours. Cheap white wines could &

get by&

by being chilled to the max when served. This chilling often masks the sweetness of wines as well as any glaring flaws the wine might have.

When we arrived in the Rogue Valley in 1980, many dinner houses served both the white and the red wine cold! It used to crack me up until I found out the wine distributors serving the dinner houses at that time used to counsel the wait staff to serve them this way! Until recently there were few wine distributors in the Valley who had an &

in house&

wine person knowledgeable enough to inform restaurants on the proper etiquette of wine service, wine knowledge or access to vintage date information on the wines that were sold.

Fortunately, things have changed, and we see some very real wine appreciation going on in almost every fine eating establishment in the Rogue Valley, primarily in Ashland, including the use of proper stemware and correct wine temperature. Here are some guidelines on wine service at home:

Red wines should be served less than room temperature, if possible. This term is called &

cellar temperature&

which allows the wine to tone down a bit on the alcohol perception on the palate. This does not mean that the wine is cold, but cool to the touch. As the meal goes on, the wine will slowly get to ambient temperature, but this is fine as the food and alcohol will by then become integrated.

White wines should be served cool to cold but never overly chilled. We simply do not want to constrict the flavors in the wine by over-chilling. Sometimes I will chill a sweeter wine such as a Riesling so that the sugars do not become overpowering. Never overchill a gewürztraminer &

the subtle spices in the wine are what you are paying for and this chilling will just kill the lovely flavors.

Among sparkling wines, sweet spumante should be very cold. Brut Champagne should be colder than cool to the touch but never, never put in an ice bucket! This is the quickest way to kill a bottle of good Champagne. The Champagne should be served cold, wrapped in a cloth to keep the temperature cool and served in a timely fashion. Ice buckets and flat champagne glasses went out with Harry Truman!

As for air time, try to pop the cork on a bottle of young red wine 10 minutes before serving to let the wine integrate with the air. Glasses should be large enough to have air space to swirl the wine for more integration. The more air, the more the flavors of the wine will show.

Wine of the week

Flying well under the radar is a magnificent dry rosé from Devitt winery in Jacksonville called &

When Pigs Fly.&

This wine is made from Syrah grapes and called a rosé of Shiraz. Dry, fresh, with hints of toast and raspberries this wine is a lovely creature with outstanding length and silkiness not often found in rosé wines. It is the finest rosé wine I have tasted this season. Bravo!