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Red Red Wine: to chill or not to chill?

Fri 30 Jul 2010 11:11


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Everyone knows that red wine is meant to be served at room temperature, but the problem with that rule is that it was established in the 19th century.

That was long before insulated walls, fitted carpets, double glazing and central heating. The living rooms of modern houses are often maintained at around 23 degrees, which in wine terms is just a little too hot.

Ideally most red wine should be served at a temperature between 15 and 19 degrees. If served too warm, reds can taste very “soupy” and lack in taste and aroma,  so sometimes it can be a good idea to pop the bottle in the fridge for10 minutes just before serving it.

Having said that, there are some red wines that really do benefit from being served that little bit cooler. These tend to be the lighter-bodied styles, made to be fruity and fresh without too much tannin, alcohol or oak.

Beaujolais, for example, is a classic wine that is best when chilled, and reds from the Loire Valley also benefit from being served cool too, as do some of Italy's lighter reds from the north of the country, and Pinot Noir. Around half an hour is the best amount to time to stick them in the fridge for.

Of course temperature is very important for white wine too. Sparkling varieties should be served very cold, but most white wines are actually best simly chilled for just one hour, rather than being left in for many hours, which can bring the temperature down to as low as two or three degrees – which can flatten their flavour.

Here are wine connoisseur Tom Cannavan’s favourite three red wines which are best when served chilled, if you're not sure where to star.

1. Piedmont Barbera 2009, Italy, £5.49 from Marks & Spencer
This unpretentious wine from Piedmont in the northwest of Italy, around Turin, has cherry and bramble flavours and typical Italianate freshness. This is a wine with not much tannin or weight about it, and really suits being slightly chilled.

With lovely fruity tastes, this particular wine goes very well with tomato flavoured pastas and dishes like mushroom risotto.

2. Domaine du Colombier, Chinon 2008, France, £5.99 from Sainsbury's
The Loire valley produces more red wines than you might think, given the popularity of their fresh whites like Sancerre, Muscadet and Vouvray. In Chinon it is the Cabernet Franc grape that is king, and this has lovely black fruit with a hint of herbs and dried nuts, and a cool, racy acidity that really works when served cool.

Tasting cues of  blackcurrant and herbs give this wine a really nice rich flavour, which matches up well with meat and poultry such as roast duck or pork, as well as goat’s cheese.

3. Louis Jadot, Beaujolais Villages 2009, France, £8.95 from Tesco
The Beaujolais is the classic red for serving on the cooler side, and this selections is from one of the best villages of the region, made by one of the top Burgundy producers.That means it has a little more structure and body than some examples, but serving it on the cool side still emphasises its fruit and freshness.

This wine, which has flavours of cherries and raspberries, matches up with with roast chicken, liver or kidneys, and hard cheeses.


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