My friend insists on chilling his red wine so that he can drink it at “cellar temperature.” Is he a pompous ass? If not, what do I need to know about chilling red wine?
Contrary to popular wisdom, reds are best served slightly cool. The lower temperature will soften any alcoholic fumes or mouthfeel that might overpower the fruit. A simple rule is this: The younger, more lighter-bodied, and simply structured the wine, the more easily it’s overpowered by the alcohol, and therefore the cooler it’s served. Beaujolais, one of the youngest wines, should be downright cold, at 50°F–54°F to allow its fruity, refreshing flavor to come through. Lighter-bodied reds like Chianti and some pinot noirs are best served slightly chilled at 55°F–60°F. And the more full-bodied, such as Syrahs and cabernets, are best drunk a touch warmer than a wine cellar: 59°F–64°F. Mark Davidson, a wine educator who trains sommeliers in Vancouver, recommends putting bottles in the fridge for 10–15 minutes before serving.