A British friend of mine has given me many sound and useful bits of advice over the years. Some of her guidance has proved indispensable in my life, such as her tip for chilling wine quickly.
I was in the midst of a particularly stress-filled move when she advised, “As soon as you get to the new kitchen, throw a bottle of white wine in the freezer. It’ll be ready in 20 minutes, which is just enough time to find the box labeled “Glasses.” It worked.
Of course, not all white wines should be drunk at the same temperature, but this simple trick is good in a pinch. After all, you don’t always have late-harvest Gewürztraminer chilled when unexpected guests arrive with celebratory news and coconut cupcakes, or when a spectacular success in the kitchen begs for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc that is still in the grocery bag.
At face value, serving wine should be simple: buy, uncork, pour. But anyone who has fallen in love with a label only to be disappointed by its contents, struggled with crumbly corks or been let down by a wine that had previously been excellent knows that serving and enjoying wine takes some practice. Making sure the wine is the correct temperature is the critical first step.
We can all learn something from Goldilocks, with her keen sense of temperatures. To get the most enjoyment out of wine, it should be served neither too warm nor too cold. Worth pointing out is that wine should be served cooler than the standard room temperature of most homes. Placing your red in the refrigerator for a short period before serving will help bring out the wine’s flavors.
Much like serving temperatures, storage temperatures are not one-size-fits-all. But storing wine at the standard 55 F will help preserve it.
As important as temperature is to safely storing wine, you also want to make sure that you are keeping your wine in a dark and stable place.
There are plenty of wine refrigerators on the market these days, but you might have a rarely used dark and cool closet that would be ideal for storing wine.
There are gadgets that record the exact temperature of a wine you are serving, including digital ones that wrap around a bottle and versions that you insert into an open bottle.
For the most part, trial and error works fine for ensuring the proper temperature. For instance, put your hands around a bottle of a Cabernet Sauvignon to make sure that it isn’t warm. Or take a sip of Chardonnay to see if it is the right temperature. You’ll realize instantly if it is too cold.
As is the case with many tips that are handed down, I’ve enhanced my British friend’s quick-chill method. Wrapping the bottle in a barely damp kitchen towel before popping it in the freezer knocks the chilling time down to just 10 minutes.
For a red wine that is too cold, leaving it out on the counter for 30 minutes will help, or you could simply pour the wine into a glass and use your hands to warm it up a bit.
Mountain View resident Christine Moore is learning more about wine every day. To read her blog, visit sheepishsommelier.blogspot.com.