Chill While You Grill - Find the Best Temperature for your Red, White and Rose

From the fourth of July Column:

One of the great challenges of the Independence Day grill-fest is keeping beverages at the right temperature, which is probably why ice-cold beer tends to dominate since it can just languish on ice cubes all day. But if you're a wine fan and you want to pair up grilled meats, you need a plan. People like to say “room temperature” is how red wine should be served, but whoever came up with that was clearly standing in a 55 degree cellar somewhere in Bordeaux, not in my living room with a fourteen foot sliding glass door between me and the blast furnace of summer in Florida. If you are adding red, white or rose to your celebration of the red, white and blue; here are some tips to bring your wine temperature down from our 78-degree “room temp.”

Plan on pairing a hearty syrah with your burger, or a spicy all-American zinfandel with your ribs? These and other fuller-bodied reds show best at 60-65 degrees. Achieve this by putting your bottle in the refrigerator for 40-45 minutes. 

For lighter reds like dolcetto, grenache, Beaujolais, or some pinot noir you’ll want to chill them a bit more, down to 50-60 degrees; an hour to an hour and a half in the fridge.

More complex white wines like chardonnay, viognier, sauvignon blanc, Champagne and Oregon pinot gris could stand a solid two hours in the refrigerator to get down to 45-50 degrees. 

Simple whites like vinho verde, non-vintage sparkling, or easy-drinking pinot grigio can be served as cold as 40-45 degrees (3 hours chilling). They could bob in the ice bucket with the beers and sodas if you want.

I like to think of temperature and wine like this: would you like a bowl of ice cream completely melted and at room temperature? No. Why? It’s too sweet. But no one added sugar to it. When things are warmer we can taste more, especially sweetness. Giving your reds a little chill while you grill will give your wine some modesty. You’ll be able to sense the wine’s complexity which would otherwise have been buried beneath wide-open fruit and hot alcohol.

Conversely, over-chilling a wine will make any flavor inaccessible to your palate, so if you forget a bottle in the refrigerator or it spends too much time in the ice bath with the beer, set it out on your lanai for about one minute and it’ll warm right up.

I welcome comments and questions at juliewriteswine@gmail.com. You can see more of my writing at www.julieglenn.com, and can connect with me on Facebook and on twitter @mouthfeeler.

Mouthfeel, by Julie Glenn