What wines do you chill?
While the 20-minute rule of thumb for wine temperature is handy, it helps to understand why you might want to chill a wine. Many light red wines benefit from being chilled, particularly during warm weather.
When you chill a wine, you directly influence the way your mind perceives that wine in four distinct ways: the acidity, the tannin, the sugar and the aromatics.
The aromatics are present because molecules are volatizing, or evaporating, from the wine. Too hot and you’ll end up with more alcohol than aromatics; too cold and you’ll prevent anything from leaving the icy grip of the fluid; just right and you’ll witness a slow, steady, layered release of aromatic compounds.
Tannin -- the drying, sometimes bitter compound found primarily in red wines -- becomes more obvious in cooler wines, primarily since tannins are assertive and generally balanced by the fruitiness of a wine.
Acidity in a wine tends to be accentuated by chilling, again because it tends to be balanced by the fruitiness of a wine. The higher perceived acidity adds to the refreshing quality of a wine -- one reason why we chill both reds and whites.