Time for a Cool Change

by David Boyce
in Winemakers, Wines, Trends
2 Dec 2015  |  1 Comment

Time for a Cool Change or how to make your wines taste better

There’s been much made lately of the fact that Australians tend to drink their white wines too cold and their reds too warm.

Max Allen wrote a piece on this in the November 28 Weekend Australian and at the same time Taylors Wines have announced that they are placing heat sensitive labels on a number of their wines cleverly showing when the wines are at their optimal  drinking temperatures.

It took me back to the time I was doing some market research to see how many pubs and restaurants stocked certain wines in Queensland. I recall checking the bar fridges at a popular pub in Ipswich about 4.00 pm one very warm and humid summer afternoon just as the pub was beginning to fill up with hot and thirsty miners and railway workers at the end of their shift.

All the glasses were kept ready for them in refrigerated cabinets below the counter and every time a bloke ordered a beer vast clouds of condensation would billow forth from the cabinet door when a glass was retrieved and filled with beer straight from the tap at a temperature close to freezing point.

Not long afterwards I ordered a glass of Pilsner in a restaurant in Germany and after a few minutes wait suggested to my German host that perhaps my order had been forgotten. “Nein, nein” was his reply. “The beer must be allowed to grow by taking time to pull it slowly from the keg, letting it settle then adding a little more to the glass until the barman has achieved a perfect head”.

Wouldn’t have suited those thirsty Queenslanders of course but served at about 7 degrees C  and patiently waiting for that head to grow, it’s how it’s done in Bavaria.       

Again in Queensland last week, but this could have been anywhere in Australia on a hot summer’s night, a riesling arrived at the table so close to freezing it was virtually impossible to tell what it was. The shiraz ordered next we were able to knock back before it had been opened when we learned it had been stored “at room temperature” of close to 25 degrees. We could have chilled it down in an ice bucket for a few minutes to somewhere close to “room temperature” in Europe, say 18 degrees, but instead opted for a pinot noir which we’d been told had been kept in a wine fridge at 14 degrees. Perfect!

Most people know to serve whites chilled and reds at room temperature but in our climate those temperatures can vary considerably.

If in doubt err on the cool side. Served too cool, a wine will always warm up to its ideal serving temperature and improve in taste as it does so but it’s harder to cool a wine down once it’s in the glass if it’s served at too warm a temperature.

Lighter wines, those higher in acid are best served at lower temperatures. Full bodied, rounder wines can be enjoyed at temperatures up to 10 degrees higher.

Taylor’s website (and it’s worth a look) suggests the following serving temperatures

-          Sparkling wine                                     6 to 8 degrees

-          Aromatic riesling, sauvignon blanc     8 to 10 degrees

-          Wooded chardonnay                          10 to 12 degrees

-          Pinot noir                                             12 to 14 degrees

-          Shiraz, cabernet                                  16 to 18 degrees

Or as one of Max Allen’s readers advised, “Twenty five minutes before dinner take the whites out of the fridge and put the reds in”. 

Sounds like a plan. Let’s drink to that.

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