Now that we are in the heart and heat of summer I thought it a good time to talk about being cool – with our wine that is. If there’s one thing that wine really doesn’t like it’s heat! Nothing will destroy a bottle faster. Now is a good time to revisit some basics about storing and serving wine at a good temperature. Whether you have three bottles or three hundred; whether you’re drinking classic Bordeaux or everyday Malbec; whether you’re a Chardonnay fan or stick to Pinot Grigio, there are some guidelines that are helpful to having the kind of sip experience you want.
When it’s hot keep it cool. Don’t let the wine sit in your car. Common sense, right? But it’s easy to be out running errands without realizing how long the wine may be heating up in the trunk. I transport it in the car so at least it’s as comfortable as I am! Just don’t park and let it simmer. And please, don’t let your wine sit in the garage.
If you buy online be aware of the shipping time. Many wineries and online sellers will ship refrigerated and with a cooling pack inside the box which is great. And many also do not ship in the heat of summer without letting you know – so if you’re a club member let them know your preference. But it still makes sense to be aware of the weather. If there’s a heat spell simply notify the winery or seller to delay your shipment. Delivery trucks get hot.
During the warmer months I generally prefer lighter styled wines and wines with good acidity. And I drink them cool. I love Rose’ and to me there’s is nothing more fun than sipping chilled Rose’ on a summer afternoon. Check here for my evangelizing about this! But there are whites and reds which also just seem fit for summer sipping.
For whites I move away from Chardonnay, Viognier and fuller bodied styles to Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino among others. Here are some zippy summer whites to enjoy. One of my favorite summer memories is sitting on a pier eating fresh steamed clams right out of the ocean and sipping a chilled Pinot Grigio – yum! Of course, a tingly Prosecco or Cava sure fit the time too. Anyway, an easy rule of thumb is think about the origin of the wine – warm climate = good drinking. And drink them nicely chilled. A half an hour in a bucket with 2/3rd ice and 1/3rd water is the ideal cooler. Also, if you have the wine in the fridge, be aware that most refrigerators are a bit too cold (typically about 38 degrees). Too cold and you’ll miss some of the taste character of the wine so take it out for about 20 minutes before drinking – it’s still chilled and it will be tastier.
For reds I wander to Barbera, Chianti, Valpolicella, Rioja Crianza, and my favorite, Pinot Noir. And I like to drink them cool. If you have a temperature controlled cellar or storage unit then the 55 degrees setting is just right. If you don’t then put the bottle in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool it down from room temperature. There’s is nothing “wrong” about enjoying bigger full wines during the summer (serve me that big Zin with some ribs!), but to me the food is the driver and we tend to eat lighter then too. More chicken and fish on the grill, summer salads and veggies, pasta with fresh tomatoes and herbs from the garden or farmer’s market, chilled soups, and even with more brats and burgers if you’re eating lighter it makes sense to be drinking lighter too.
Okay – I have now written my way to lunch and it’s about 80 degrees out there! I think I’ll head to the deck, the shade and a chopped salad with glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc!
For lots of wine choice go to the the Sips pages: