Here’s a fun fact: most red wine is served too warm, just as most whites are over-chilled to within an inch of their lives. The rule of thumb is ‘serve red at room temperature’, but since central heating and modern insulation came on the scene, room temperature is now a smidge on the high side.
To put it into context, room temperature is 21°C, but the peak temperature to serve a red is between 15–18°C. Serving a red too warm can affect its texture and can lead to the wine becoming ‘flabby’– the lower temperature acting like a corset to gather the flavours together.
Restaurants are the worst offenders. Ragingly hot during service, unfortunately few have the facilities to
keep their reds at the optimal temperature. Showing a red the ice bucket for 10 minutes reduces its
sweetness, freshens its fruit and softens the thwack of alcohol. Light, juicy reds can be lifted to new heights by a spot of fridge time, and it can even endow lower priced supermarket shockers with some much-needed finesse.
The Gamay grape found in Beaujolais has soft fruit and barely-there tannins, making it the ideal candidate for chilling. A peppery Cote du Rhone has more flavour factor, so doesn’t need as long. Don’t forget that chilling a red beefs up its tannins, so beware of chilling anything too gutsy
that might release the oak monster. Just bear in mind that the lighter the wine, the more fridge time it can handle.
With barbecue season on the horizon, whack a young Rioja, Chianti or a Pinot Noir in the fridge, and even if the coals don’t light up, at least you will. Remember that over-chill is over-kill, so if this does happen, all you need to do is sit in the sun and gently swirl the glass until it warms up again; a task I can
usually bring myself to carry out.
For more unusual, fridge-friendly fayre, why not take Italy’s Frappato for a spin, or alternatively a Chinon from the Loire, made from the Cabernet Franc grape? If we’re lucky enough to have a warm summer, chuck a bottle of Aussi Sparkling Shiraz in the freezer for 10 – that’s sun-down sipping at its best.
Presenter and author Rob Buckhaven is passionate about food and drink, and appears regularly as a wine expert on TV, and as a newspaper and magazine columnist. He can also be found hosting shows across the country, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Follow him on Twitter at @robbuckhaven