A recent email from Florence Fabricant of the NYTimes asked what I thought about a restaurant that has a special category on its wine list for Chilled Red Wines. I would like to expand on my reply, but for a little more background you can read her column here: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/on-this-wine-list-cold-reds-get-a-cozy-spot/
“On This Wine List, Cold Reds Get a Cozy Spot”
Here are some further thoughts on the subject. I have always been of the belief that a cheap, not very good wine should be served very, very cold so as to disguise the unpleasant aromas and flavors. Chilling red wine makes the tannin in the wine more pronounced creating the unpleasant impression of drinking tea that was steeped too long.
For a restaurant to list a number of chilled red wines on their wine list is to me just a gimmick. One of the wines they list is Dolcetto. I have been in Piedmont a number of times ,in the restaurants, wineries and homes of the producers where I have been offered Dolcetto to taste or drink never did anyone ever suggest that the wine should be served chilled. It is just not done!
A reader responding to Ms. Fabricant’s article disagreed with me and wrote that Beaujolais should always be chilled below 55 degrees F. He did not make the distinction between Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais Villages. The Villages wines should never be chilled, as they are wines with tannin and can age. Beaujolais Nouveau is released at the end of November and this is the wine that most people think should be chilled. Chilling the Beaujolais below 55 degrees will mute those wonderful fruity aromas and flavors that you want from this type of wine. This wine should be drunk as soon as it is released and is at its best up to the early spring.
Here is my bottom line. When it is a very hot day and a wine feels warm to the touch it should be placed in the refrigerator or in an ice bucket until it feels cool to the touch. The perfect temperature to drink a red wine is between 63 and 68 degrees when the bottle will feel cool. Since we do not carry thermometers around with us to check the temperature, touching the bottle and feeling that it is cool is the best test.
One exception to my rule — all sparkling red wines should be chilled.