Keep Your Cool this Summer -- Chilling Wine Like a Pro

Keep Your Cool this Summer -- Chilling Wine Like a Pro

It bears repeating that ice cold beer is one of the most refreshing and welcome beverages of summer. The cold, bracing feel of carbonation and the dry flavor of malty hops is a just reward for a well mowed lawn or the completion of a round of golf. It also bears repeating the proper method for chilling white wine does NOT come anywhere near the ice cold that makes beer so refreshing. 

Most white wines will be best at 48-54 degrees F. If wines are much colder than that, the only thing that you will taste is alcohol and acid. In order for the esters and aromas of white wine to reach your olfactory bulb, the wine has to be a good bit warmer than refrigerator temperature. 

To get your wine to the correct temperature, follow the 40 minute rule: If you have had your white wine in the fridge, pull it out 40 minutes before you intend to serve it. If you are starting with a white at room temperature, a 40 minute rest in the fridge will bring it to a more congenial serving temperature. If you are serving a sparkling wine like Champagne or Cava, one hour then straight from the refrigerator is acceptable. The carbonation will bring aromas and flavors to the surface -- and make your nose tickle!

While we're talking about refrigerating wine, let's dismiss another myth: There's no harm in refrigerating wine, and no need to worry about alternately cooling wine and letting it come back to room temperature. Perhaps based on old stories about unpasteurized beer, many people fear that wine will be somehow damaged by this treatment, but it simply isn't so. You do want to protect your wine from high heat, but otherwise, it's durable and resistant to moderate temperature changes within the range of 35-85 degrees F.

One last summertime caveat concerning wine: Don’t let a bottle overheat inside your car or trunk! If the cork has been pushed up and wine is leaking from around the capsule, it is a sure sign your wine is cooked. Overheated wine will be undrinkable within a day or two. If your wine reached just 130-140 degrees F, it will taste bland, flat and lifeless. If you think you may have overheated a bottle of wine, immediately bring it back to serving temperature and give it a taste. A few of the times I have been the bonehead who left a bottle to heat up in a locked car, drinking the wine right away hasn’t seemed to have been a huge catastrophe. Other times I’ve tasted wines even a day or two after the sedan sauna treatment, they have been replaced by a horrible beverage resembling stewed prunes. A good rule of thumb for wine in the summer is one related to me by Mary Maier of Bozeman’s own Health Balance. Her rule is: “If your car is too hot for your dog, it is too hot for wine.” 

Keep cool.