Ever Wonder? Should You Chill a Bottle of Wine in the Freezer?

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It’s a common problem. You buy a bottle of wine that you want to server that same day. And you want it chilled. So, is the freezer a good option for quickly chilling a bottle of wine?

Well, chilling a bottle of wine in the freezer is one method. But, it has a couple of issues.

First, a freezer by definition is an environment that is below freezing. Right? So, that’s 32 degrees F or below. And, assuming you are trying to chill a bottle of white wine, rosé or sparkling wine, the best serving temperatures for those are going to be somewhere in the range of 38 to 55 degree F range, depending of the type of wine. Thus, a freezer is going to be too cold if the bottle remains in the freezing environment too long.

And, you run the risk of actually damaging the bottle. Depending on the alcohol content of the wine, it will freezer somewhere in the 15 to 20 degree F range. Because wine is mostly water, it’s going to expand when it freezes which can either push the cork out of the bottle (see photo) or, even worse, break the bottle!

The second issue with using a freezer to quickly chill a bottle of wine is that it’s really not that quick. It will still take quite a while to get that bottle to your ideal serving temperature.

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So, what’s the best way to quickly chill a bottle of wine? Well, find a container that’s a bit larger than the bottle or bottles, fill it with ice and then fill it with water. The ice-cold water will then fully surround your bottle and it’ll be chilled rapidly. And, you don’t need to worry about it freezing!

Cheers!

Ever Wonder? - What is the Best Way to Store an Opened Bottle of Wine?

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Last time we looked at a rather unorthodox way of storing an open bottle of wine — in the freezer. And then thawing it in the microwave. Well, that’s not the common advice.

Here’s some of the the more typical ways to store an opened bottle of wine. Even if you follow these steps they will only keep the wine good for a few days.

Re-Seal It

First, you need to re-seal the opened wine bottle either with the cork that you pulled out of the bottle or with a stopper. A stopper is the most convenient way because if you’ve ever tried to put a cork back in the bottle, it can be difficult. Especially if you try to put the same end back in. But don’t be tempted to put the top or ‘clean’ end into the bottle. It may be easier but you really don’t know how ‘clean’ that end was to start with. So, either put the original end or the cork back into the bottle or use another stopper. And, if the bottle was a twist-off, you’ll definitely want a stopper. The best stoppers are those that allow you to pump the air out of the bottle. That will ensure your wine doesn’t have too much exposure to air which leads to the wine going down-hill even more rapidly.

Keep It Cool

Once you’ve resealed the bottle, you’ll want to keep it cool. Don’t leave it out on the counter. Room-temperature and sunlight will quickly degrade the wine. And besides, like any perishable, it needs to be refrigerated after opening. Keeping it cold will slow the process of the wine’s degradation but, again, it’ll only keep for a few days. Then, just remember to take the cold bottle out of the refrigerator well before serving. For white wine, it probably needs to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to be at proper serving temperature. For reds, give them around an hour.

Using these simple steps should ensure that your opened bottle of wine will still be good for a few days after your first open it. As for the freezer and microwave, I’m not yet convinced. Cheers!

Ever Wonder? - Does White Wine have to be Chilled?

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A few months back a friend of mine told me that, in the past, he really didn’t like white wine. He said white wines just didn’t have as much flavor as red wines. He preferred the flavors of a red wine.

But, on a wine tasting trip he went ahead and tried a Chardonnay. And he really liked it!

What was immediately obvious to him was that the Chardonnay was very lightly chilled as opposed to refrigerator temperature.

His experience with white wines had all been with very cold white wines. And the chill had taken all the flavor out of the wine.

This is indeed true. And, often the reason that people like their wines (including red wines) heavily chilled — to make them have less flavor.

So, the answer to the question is no, white doesn’t have to be chilled at all. But a light chill will allow you to experience the white wine as it was intended by the winemaker.

A rule-of-thumb that I’ve always used is that for white wine is that you should take the bottle out of a standard refrigerator (which is typically 35-40 degrees F) approximately 30 minutes before you want to serve it. That should leave a chill on it. Or, if you own a wine refrigerator, you probably already know that it should be set to approximately 50 degrees F for white wines.

But, as my friend found out, the serving temperature of wine generally is a matter of personal preference. Whatever your preference, enjoy!

The Serving Temperature Can Dramatically Affect the Way a Wine Tastes

Wine should be fun and enjoyable. And, my motto on EverWonderWine.com is 'Drink what you like.' So, I try to keep things simple and make your wine experience more enjoyable.  And while the temperature of the wine you drink may seem unimportant, or even a bit snobbish to talk about, it really can affect your wine experience.

The bottom line is that the temperature at which a wine is served matters.  And here's why.  The 'proper' serving temperature will ensure that you get the best experience from your wine.  Serve it too cold or too warm and you can loose a lot of the wine's character.

This is partly due to your nose and how a wine's aroma works along with its taste. And aroma is greatly affected by the wine's temperature.  A cold wine will have less of an aroma because fewer of the volatile compounds will be released from the wine. Conversely, a warmer wine will easily release these compounds and give you an opportunity to experience the wine's full aroma.

Then there's the way a wine tastes.  Serving a white wine too cold will mute its fruit flavors. White wines taste good when they are served cool because of their acidity and negligible tannin. The fruit flavors are zippy and bright and a bit of a chill will enhance this.  But full bodied white wines that have been aged in oak (e.g., Chardonnay) are best served not quite so cool to allow you experience the buttery and vanilla flavors that oak imparts.

Serving a red wine too cold will emphasize its acidity, bitterness and tannin.   But serving a red wine at room temperature is a bit too warm and can make it seem heavy, lifeless and emphasize the alcohol, yielding a burning sensation in your throat.

So, here are some general guidelines for the 'proper' serving temperatures of wines:

  • Sparkling Wine: 42° - 50° F
  • Light Whites: 46° - 54° F
  • Full Bodied Whites: 54° - 60° F
  • Rosé: 45° - 55° F
  • Light Reds: 50° - 54° F
  • Medium Reds: 57° - 63° F
  • Full Bodied Reds: 59° - 65° F

And while most people don't have specialized multi-zone wine refrigerators to precisely control their wine temperatures, or take the time to use a fancy wine thermometer, here are a couple quick rules-of-thumb.  Sparking wine can be store and served directly from a kitchen refrigerator. With white wine, place it in your kitchen refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving. Or, if it's been stored in a kitchen refrigerator, remove it 30 minutes before serving.  For red wines, put them in a kitchen refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. This way, your white wines will be cool but not cold and your reds will be slightly cooled and not too warm.

If you really like your red and white wines at kitchen refrigerator temperatures or your red wines at room temperature, go ahead and continue enjoying them. But at some point, give these temperature suggestions a try. Who knows, you might find that your favorite wines are even better at the recommended temperatures. Cheers!

Is Your Wine Too Hot, Too Cold or Just Right?

It is said that most American's drink their white wines too cold and their red wines too warm. And I've certainly observed this myself.  Wine flavors can be amazing, but serving a wine too cold or too warm can significantly affect a wine's flavors. While the serving temperature that is just right for you is a matter of individual taste, there are some common rules of thumb.

When it comes to light white wines, sparkling wines and rosé, the common thought is that they should be served in the range of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (F). A more full-bodied white wine, such as Chardonnay, should be served in the 50 to 60 F range.  And as you can see, these temperatures are well above the typical refrigerator temperature of 34 F.  When a wine is served too cold, the flavors are not allowed to fully come out. So you end up with flat, bland or weak tasting white wines.

A friend of mine recently commented that he had never really liked Chardonnay. He was more of a red wine drinker.  But during a winery visit he had been served a Chardonnay and really liked it.  Not just because it was a nice Chardonnay, but because it was being served well above the refrigerator temperature that he was used to. So at the proper temperature he got to truly experience all the flavors of Chardonnay for the first time.  It was a real eye opener for him.

For red wines, the lighter and fruitier ones can be served in the range of 50 to 60 F with full-bodied reds being in the 60 to 65 F range.  These temperatures are well below 'room temperature.'  Serving a red wine too warm can make it more harsh, exaggerate the tannin and enhance the mouth-feel of the alcohol causing a burning sensation.

If you do have a white wine in the refrigerator, pull it out and let it sit for 30 minutes. And, if you have a bottle of red that's at room temperature, put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Or better yet, invest in a wine refrigerator that will ensure your wines are stored and served at just the right temperature. Cheers!


Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week - Stags' Leap Merlot ($20)

Looking for an attainable, affordable wine?  You've come to the right place. Each week I feature just such a wine that may be great for taking to a party, enjoying with a dinner or just sipping on Wine Wednesday. 

This week's wine is Stags' Leap Merlot. This medium-bodied wine from Napa Valley is an excellent wine at $20. Nice big flavor of berry fruit with soft tannin and a smooth finish. You can't go wrong with a wine from Stags' Leap.