Cold or Chilled?

Yes, there is a difference... Especially when it comes to wine. And there are those who argue those differences with all the passion of a political election.

Not one to shy away from speaking my mind, I thought I would lead us into this season of sunny, warm days.. backyard grilling.. picnics at the coast.. hikes and bike rides, with my views on the importance of proper white wine temperature.

In my days of winery ownership and staffing a bustling tasting room, I was regularly asked by customers why we served our white wines at the temperatures we did. Since there was such variation, it was clear that this was a conscious choice. The easy solution for most tasting rooms is to simply put all their white wines in a refrigerator and call it good. But I always believed that this did the wines, and the winemaker, a disservice. Some varietals just don't show as well (read: taste as good) too cold.

My us usual reply to such inquiries was to say that, as a general rule, I personally found that you drink a "chilled" wine for flavor and you drink a "cold" wine for refreshment. Now, in my youthful years helping dad with his construction company, there was nothing better than an ice cold beverage on a hot day... though it was almost always a frosty Primo beer. But we sure weren't drinking that to enjoy the flavor! Same holds true for wine. I believe that the ability to taste the flavors of the wine and appreciate it's complexities, diminishes with each degree that a wine drops. Like that beer, that isn't always a bad thing. Some occasions just call for refreshment. I get that and I am right there with you!

But, there are times when you still want to be able to taste those things that made that wine good in the first place. And for me that is where cold can become too cold. I generally drink my whites a little cooler than "cellar" temperature. So I put them in my fridge 15-20 minutes before I am ready to drink them. And since a bottle of wine at my place never lasts more than a short while, I don't have to worry about keeping it cool. But use your own judgment. No, I am not a fan of submersing it in an ice bucket in some death ritual. And I sure hope I don't need to comment on tossing in a couple of ice cubes to keep it cold. But if that is what it takes for you to enjoy your wine, then do so. In the end, it is all about enjoyment.

Now, there are some exceptions to the rule. Personally, I don't think that you can ever get "bubbly" cold enough... And I think most folk drink and serve Chardonnay way too cold. It is no wonder that both of these are often under-appreciated.

So, the next time you are opening that bottle of white wine, try it at a couple temps. Easy enough to just let some sit in a glass for a little while. See if it doesn't taste a little better after a moment or two. Like any of you needed me to give you an excuse to experiment.

Meanwhile, I'll get back to walking that fine line of choosing sides and stepping on toes. Aren't opinions a wonderful thing? And speaking of politics, if anyone has a hat that says "Make America Drink Again ", count me in.


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