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Summer Wine Drinking: 3 Grave Errors to Avoid

With summertime upon us, some important things to remember before you uncork…
by Giancarlo Gariglio

What’s summer without wine-fuelled picnics, barbeques, and lingering al fresco dinners on balmy nights? But in preparation for the merriment, keep in mind three faux pas to avoid at all costs…



1) Reds too warm


Let’s say once and for all that serving red wine at room temperature in summer is a huge—but all too common—error. A restaurant or house between June and September can have an average temperature of 25ºC (77ºF). A red wine at this temperature can taste flabby, heavy and alcoholic. The best temperature for reds is 16-20ºC (61-68ºF).


It happened to me the other day in a rather esteemed restaurant in the Langhe, Piedmont. They brought me a warm Barolo, around 23ºC (73ºF). I asked the sommelier to bring me an ice bucket and he looked at me like I was an idiot. But after 10 minutes on ice, G. B. Burlotto’s Barolo Monvigliero 2005 was phenomenal.


At home try to bring the temperature of the bottle down to 16ºC (61ºF), slightly colder than desirable because it will immediately warm up a bit in the glass. If you’re in a restaurant, ask for an ice bucket or for the bottle to be placed back in the fridge. Don’t worry if the waiter of sommelier doesn’t get it. Don’t suffer in silence.



2) Whites too cold


The other side of the coin. The best temperature for white wine is 10-13ºC (49-55ºF). Below that, it’s like putting a mask on it. The aromas are lost and the palate is flat. At best you might perceive acidity, but that’s all.


If you’re served wine that’s too cold, be patient. Let it warm up a bit in the glass, cupping it in your hands. Otherwise it’s useless to order a good bottle. If you’re at home don’t leave it in the fridge too long, and for even less in the freezer.



3) Drinking sparking wine and Moscato only at Christmas and New Year’s


At least in Italy, 80% of sparkling wine is drunk in the Christmas holiday period. Are we nuts? How divine is a good metodo classico or Prosecco on a hot summer’s day! We should be drinking them now more than ever. Moscato is even worse off, almost completely forgotten in summer. But what could be better after a day at the beach than an aperitif with fresh summer fruit and a glass of aromatic moscato?


I can’t think of anything.



Image: Wikimedia Commons