I can't be the only person who got served multiple frostbitten glasses of sauvignon blanc during last month's heat wave. Now that we've turned the corner into July where an onslaught of sweltering happy hours await us, we can only pray for salvation from glasses full of limp Rioja and tongue-numbing riesling. It's true that getting serving temps right at this time of year is a bit like trying to get one of those plastic corks back into the bottle: kinda tricky.
If you're not sure why you should care about this, here's the deal. Ever noticed how much better your scoop of Ben & Jerry's tastes after it's been in the bowl for about five minutes or so? Or burned the shit out of your mouth on a way-too-hot cup of coffee, only to realize that your palate was pretty much wrecked for the rest of the day? It's the same deal with wine: Our taste buds respond best to wines served at their ideal temperatures.
Here's how to get it done, all summer long.
Get whites & rosés right: A too-frosty white or rosé wine will affect your perception of the wine's sweetness (its fruity goodness) and acidity (how crisp and refreshing it seems) and also means lower overall aroma intensity. Do the wine (and yourself) a favor and serve it somewhere between 42 and 50 degrees. If that seems crazy warm to you, that's because the chardonnays you've been pulling out of your fridge for eons were probably hovering somewhere right around 35 degrees. Yeah, that's way too cold (unless your white/pink wine is of the sparkling persuasion - in which case, that'd be just about perfect). Now in case you find yourself in the reverse scenario, saddled with a too-warm wine in need of service, resist the little voice in your head telling you to just "pop it in the freezer for a bit". Don't be fooled with a misperception that it won't freeze because of its alcohol content; quite the contrary. Even the humblest of wines doesn't deserve this treatment. Instead, fill an ice bucket with a mixture of ice and water, add the bottle, and give it a mere 15 minutes. Simple as that.
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Make reds ready-to-drink: The mistreatment of red wines is no less egregious. I don't know about you, but room temperature at my house this summer has been hovering right around 75 degrees. Pouring yourself a glass of barbera straight off the kitchen counter will literally result in a hot mess. A more righteous range for easy-drinkin' summertime reds? A decidedly civilized (and cellar-like) 55 to 60 degrees. If right about now you're sweatin' the fact that you've yet to procure one of those fancy-schmancy wine refrigerators, never fear. Just remedy that over-warm pinot by letting it chill out in the icebox for maybe 15 minutes or so. This technique isn't really the ticket for your high-end wines, but if you really want to perfect your temps, you can always scoop up this nifty little gadget: www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=210&f=37607.