Seeing Red? That's cool!
Everyone knows that: Rosé and riesling are sweet wines (and sophisticated people don’t drink sweet wine), white wine is the pairing of choice with fish, Italy and Spain are all about red wine, big brands are big because they’re the best, Lambrusco is the soda pop of red wines, white wines should be served very cold, and only a hayseed would ever dream of chilling red wine. You know.
Well dang. Isn’t it amazing how completely wrong conventional “wisdom” can often be? I mean, not just a little bit misguided, or not quite right, but completely, thoroughly, barking-up-the-wrong-tree erroneous? I can personally testify, cross my heart, Scout’s honor that the above “truths” ain’t necessarily so. Which serves to make your summer a heckuva lot more more delicious, particularly because of the temperature thing.
The fact is that, year-‘round, most of us drink our whites way too cold and our reds way too warm. Most of us are familiar what happens to aroma as its source is chilled – it vanishes, by degrees. Chill that bottle of grower Champagne or white Burgundy to near freezing and you essentially squander the loveliness your hard-earned ducats bought. Just be cool, not ice cold and your reward is refreshment and the full pleasure of all discovering all the nuance and charm your wine has to offer.
On the other hand, drinking a red wine at “room” temperature often volatilizes the alcohol, making it seem disjointed and out of balance. Crank up the temperature a notch or two on a warm summer day and things can really get out of whack, pretty much taking all the pleasure out of a nice bottle of red. Granted, a big, powerful, tannic red is less likely to sound very refreshing on a toasty day, but a fruity Beaujolais, a young Rioja, a grenache-based Côtes du Rhône, or a nice fresh Dolcetto (not to mention a savory Lambrusco) are often not only the perfect match for warm weather fare, but all the more refreshing with just a hint of a chill. Not cold, mind you, but just a few degrees above “cellar” temperature—somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees, depending.
So, thirsty for something red with your al fresco dinner? Just chill, the possibilities are endless.