To chill, or not to chill?

by Kathleen Dennis
July 06, 2012

If you're anything like me, the summer lends itself to enticing promises of sparkling conversation beneath a cloudless, sunny sky, fueled by the hypnotic sips of your favorite chilled wine. Of course, this means that you're probably drinking a cold, crisp white. Possibly a Riesling, or perhaps a Pino Grigio with a few raspberries resting at the bottom. Each sip is an accord of flavors dancing on your tongue. A perfect summer moment.

But this summer wine mentality is limiting, as you can only enjoy your favorite whites on a hot, summer day. Or is it? I'll share a quick story:

He pulled a dark bottle out of the refrigerator door, set it on the island counter, peeled the foil away, twisted the corkscrew through the top and popped the cork (my favorite sound). I noticed the label, and peered at him with one eyebrow inquisitively risen. Noticing the look on my face, he responded, "What? You've never had a chilled Malbec?"

"No?" I replied, questioningly.

He said, "I love a chilled Malbec" as he poured each of us a glass.

"Since when?!" I retorted, having spent the better part of our lives in each others sight. Cue the subtle, film noir soundtrack beneath my accusing stare. My friend has clearly been drinking wine with other, influential friends.

I did not enjoy the chilled Malbec. The tannins were far too strong to allow me any semblance of tasting it's complex flavors. This did, however, make me wonder if my influenced friend was on the right track, somehow. I truly enjoy my reds, and I am sad for the days when I will pass them over with fruity whites all because the temperatures insist upon it.

Stay with me friends, I am getting to the point!

A chilled, red wine, in order to preserve its integrity, must have a fierce acidity to combat the dulling, colder temperature. This means that you should choose a wine that is young, and lower in alcohol, with little or no wood aging. Most French reds already qualify: the Gamay grape, for instance, has a thin skin and is low in tannins.

This solves a number of our problems. When having a summer BBQ, complete with a variety spread of red meat options, a chilled Pinot Noir might be the best thing to compliment your night. Bottom line? Give it a shot! Toss a French wine or a Pinot Nior into the fridge for 30 minutes, and enjoy a chilled red with your cheeseburger. If you hate it, you've always got that Moscato.

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