kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

703.203.9463

"Hot" reds burn, baby

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to wine is serving red wine too warm. "Room temperature" actually means 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. "cellar temperature",) NOT your-DC-apartment-in-August temperature. And it certainly doesn't mean the temperature on top of your refrigerator.

So what can happen when a red wine is served too warm? Mainly, it causes an alcohol burning sensation in your mouth and in the back of your throat. Not enticing. Not refreshing. And it's only exacerbated with a high alcohol red like Zinfandel, Barolo or Syrah.

So what to do? Ideally, store your wine in a temperature controlled wine refrigerator, or in a wine cellar. If this isn't possible, then chill your reds a bit. Yup, you heard me--chill your reds.

You can accomplish this by sticking a bottle in the fridge for 15 or 20 minutes. Or in an ice water bath for 5-10 minutes. Or stick one of those VacuVin wine chiller sleeves on the bottle, and set it on your counter for 15 minutes (or in the fridge or freezer for a much shorter time...) If you are served a "hot red" in a restaurant, ask for a bucket of ice water and give it a much-needed ice bath for a few minutes.

The end result will be a wine that still has its nuances and complexity, but one that doesn't taste like you are swallowing grain alcohol. Ahhhh...now that's more like it.

And, the lighter the red (Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Valpolicella), the more chilling it can take.