Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Drinking those reds too warm.

Posted by Richard Foxall, Jul 11, 2011.

I keep my home cooler in winter than most people--never more than 68 F, except a brief period in the AM when the kids would otherwise wake up and when they dress.  But I noticed that the wines I bring up from the basement taste better, are more complex, taste less alcoholic.  So I started putting a VacuVin cooling sleeve (useless for whites!) around all the reds before I drink them.  And it's worth a good 2-3 points, if you care about those things.  Now, instead of bringing the wine for a dinner party up in the morning, I just stand the bottle up to settle the sediment a few days before, and bring it in right before I open it.  During the summer, or for the "everyday" bottles that don't make the trip downstairs, I put the sleeve on.  GregT has mentioned as well that he enjoys his reds a little cooler than most do, but I suspect that restaurants and home drinkers in general are mistakenly assuming  modern room temperature is adequately close to the room temperature of a drafty French chateau and serving these wines too warm.  So I'm thinking about doing some tastings where I serve the same wine at temps of 68 and something closer to the recos of wne guides, like 60-62 F.  Anyone else tried this?


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 12, 2011.


Not tried the sleeve but my cellar is around 63-65F most of winter and there is no doubt that the wine is excellent around that temperature, I find in summer I have trouble keeping it the same with it ranging up to just below 70F on the reaaly hot spells.  We tend to have a permanent ice box going during the really hot spells and I often just sit a red on top of the ice when I bring it up.  Usually we have the Aircon on for dinner with guests so decanting it in a room around 20-23C [68-74F] after being on the ice seems to work OK.

In winter we usually don't have the temp more than mid 60's in the kitchen so I tend to decant there. 

Reply by spikedc, Jul 12, 2011.

On holiday in Malta a couple of weeks ago we were in one restaurant and the red wine we ordered came out HOT (must have had standing in the sun) don't know why i tried it but it tasted like one of those medicinal drinks for a heavy cold.

We had beer instead, fortunately the food was of better quality.

I must admit i tend to put my red wine in the fridge for just a few minutes before drinking.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 12, 2011.

Often do the same

It amazes me how many quality restaurants have poor wine storage.

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 12, 2011.

It seems the colder the better for cheaper reds.  From my experience, if the wine is really good, it's usually going to be really good at a number of different temperatures, though may as well be as close to 60-62 as you can.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2011.

Different subject, of course, but I tend to want to drink my whites warmer than most people do. Purposely bring aged chards and others up and let them adjust a bit to a warmer temp before serving at home. Have to yank bottles at restaurants out of the ice bucket when servers get nazi about icing. Particularly fun when they want to have the bucket over near some serving station. Have to insist they just put the bottle of white on the table.

I don't have one temp for reds. A bit of a range depending on what they are. But I definitely don't like an evaporating alcohol barrage as I bring the glass closer to my face when the temp's too high. Just imagining that red you drank in Malta, Spike, was painful. If it was Guiness and you were in the sticks of the emerald isle, though, they might've purposely put the bottle next to the fireplace....


Reply by duncan 906, Jul 12, 2011.

In France if you order 'un pichet de vin rouge' ,which is basically the house wine,it will often come chilled because what they do is to store a wine box in the fridge and decant it into the jug

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 12, 2011.

d, I think you have it right that the warmer temp leads to alcohol barrage on the nose.  After all, most of what we taste is really smell, and although we think of things generally have more fragrance when warmer, the alcohol will start evaporating off noticeably with just a few degrees, while the cooling won't take away many of those secondary aromas.  And there's clearly no "one size fits all" temperature.  I've decided I like my Syrah based wines a bit cooler than grenaches, and I'm working on the zone for my cab-based faves.  I'm far from precise--if I had a spreadsheet, maybe I would add a column for temp, but I don't roll the Excel way.

Now, too cold whites, that's also a problem--and regulating the temperature when whites are brought to the table, too.

Reply by 1 jayjay, Jul 12, 2011.

i find that here in the UK that unless you put your REDS on a radiator

they never seem to get to warm.

Reply by GregT, Jul 12, 2011.

Fox - I'm with you.  When the wife isn't home I keep the house at a temp that seems to work well for many wines - low to mid 60sF.  Some wines can be cooler, some warmer, but there's an optimal temp for every wine, or at least an optimal range.  Slightly cooler you do lose some aromatics, but you also lose the alcoholic edge and for me, the trade-off is worth it.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 13, 2011.

I find that as the wine warms up slightly from cool, I get some of those aromatics back but with less heat from the alcohol.  I'm going to start taking some notes, but I might have to buy some kind of infrared thermometer because tonight I noticed my muscadet sur lie changing dramatically, then peaking at one moment before becoming less intriguing again as it warmed past the optimal point.

I'm also remembering that some of the best grenache I had recently I cooled, so maybe all my reds want to be colder.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 13, 2011.

Yeah, I never did get that you wanted your grenache warmer than your syrah... ;-)

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 13, 2011.

When cooling the wine by sticking it in the fridge before serving, i've been opening the bottle (uncorking) before doing this lately. I hadn't done this before.  Does it matter much, open or closed?

Currently open in the fridge: 05 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva

Reply by GregT, Jul 13, 2011.

I think the main dif is that if you decide you want another wine after all, you have to re-cork. Main reason to open a bottle is to drink it!

I'm not sure what you're goal is but if you want to give the wine some air, the volume of air in the neck, and more importantly, the surface area offered by the neck relative to the great mass of wine, is too small to accomplish much for the few minutes you're going to leave the wine in there. What you can do, and what I do from time to time, is decant and put the whole thing in the fridge. OTOH, I don't think you're hurting anything either.

There are some people who think that a very slow aeration, accomplished by taking the cork out and leaving the wine for a day or so, maybe with the cork very loosely replaced, is a great technique for "helping" older wines. If you have a few bottles of the same wine, maybe it's worth a try.  Personally, I'm skeptical, but since I haven't done it on several dozen bottles, I probably shouldn't form any hard opinions one way or another.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 14, 2011.

I must try and test the temperature theory

When I have some time I will pour a number of glasses of a wine a try at different temps to see what it does.

I opened a local pinot last night and it is sitting in the dining room at around 12C - 53-54F overnight so if I get home early enough might try out while watching the Tour grind up the Cor de Tourmelet [that should be about 11pm my time]

Reply by sparks1093, Jul 14, 2011.

We opened a bottle of Petite Sirah a couple of nights ago and had a glass at room temp. After reading this thread I put the remainder in the fridge about 30-45 minutes before finishing it off last night. It was noticeably better to both of us.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 14, 2011.

JD: The decanting is a different question, but good advice I got here was to decant infrequently and instead pour a glass and let the rest sit in the bottle with the greater surface area now that the neck has been vacated. Everything is contingent with wine, seems to me, and you make your best guess for each bottle, based on variety, vintage, region, age, what you like, any past experience with the wine--that goes for temp, decanting and even the food you have it with. 

SH: I am thinking of getting an infrared thermometer, and making observations--okay, this is getting nerdy, I know-- but there's also always a little difference between the outside of the bottle and the contents, so it's never going to be perfect. Still, I'm interested to know at what temp the wines taste best to me, and where they are starting out when stored in the house or basement.

Funny thing is I bought the vacuvin cooling sleeve thinking it would work well enough to chill whites, but it didn't.  Should have been obvious from the start, but that's hindsight for you.  It's good at insulating already cooled whites when you have to take them somewhere, and I use it to protect reds when I have to take one in the car and am going to make a stop along the way.  (Don't worry, all, I take more precautions, like putting the whole thing in a cooler and, if the stop could last a little while, a couple of those refreezable coolant bags. Better too cold than too hot, but mostly just protect it from any variation as best you can.) But the main use has been to put a slight chill on reds if the house or basement are closer to 70 than 60, and it's really improved most of the red wines I've had. So a purchase that worked out well after all.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 14, 2011.

I did try a 08 Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz last night, a glass a my local Thai Restaurant and it was probably around 15C/68F at a guess and then a glass when I got home at ~10C/59F. 

Whilst about an hourish between tastes did not get a persuasively different taste

Not a real ideal test but interesting

Reply by anstett, Jul 18, 2011.

Here in South Florida I am used to "normal temperatures" in the 80's F and the house AC is rarely set lower than 77. So I have a wine fridge set up to cellar all the wines we drink. I keep the reds down lower than normal (about 56-58) so that when I take them out to serve they stay closer to the low end of ideal temp for longer.



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