One of my favourite wine cartoons of all time shows a couple of Eskimos leaving the Baffin Island Wine Store, bottle in mittened hand. ‘If we serve this at room temperature,’ one of them says to the other, ‘it won’t come out of the bottle.’ That’s the problem with the old adage about serving reds un-chilled. In these days of centrally heated houses, you need to be a little more precise about how warm or cold your wine is.
As a general rule, I’d say that most reds are served too warm, while most whites are served too cold. Never allow your reds to go above 20ºC, as they can taste stewed and flabby. Never serve white wines below 8ºC, as this obscures the fruit and can make the wine taste overly acidic. The lighter the red, the more it will benefit from an hour or so in the fridge. Big, beefy reds should be served warmer – at 18ºC or so – but for, say, a Beaujolais, a Bardolino or most Pinot Noirs, 12ºC-15ºC is ideal. With white wines, serve big oaky wines, such as Californian or Australian Chardonnays at 12ºC-15ºC and crisp and/or aromatic ones at 8ºC-12ºC. Sparkling wines are best served at 8ºC- 10ºC to emphasise their acidity and freshness. Wine will be perfectly stored in Spiral Cellars wine rooms.
The best way to warm up a wine that has come out of the cellar is to leave it on the kitchen table for an hour or so. Don’t put it by the fire (unless you’re desperate to get the wine up to the right temperature in a hurry) and never put your bottle in a microwave. It may well explode. For whites, the fridge is better than an ice bucket; otherwise use one of those specially designed wine sleeves (www.hydropac.co.uk). It’s always worth having a wine thermometer to hand so that you can check the temperature of your wine. Don’t neglect this step, as it can make a big difference to the way your wine smells and tastes.