Wine feels eternal.
The Chinese started making it 7,000 years ago. The Georgians were a little late at 6,000 years past. The Greek have 4,000 years of experience versus 3,500 years for the Italians.
So why does a digital wine thermometer seem like cheating history? Wine is supposed to be served based on experience and personal taste, not thanks to some scanner that beeps with a flashing number.
Still, it’s OK to embrace science as a complement to art when serving wine. Here’s a simple guideline. You don’t want an extraordinary bottle suddenly become very disappointing.
Sparkling Wine – 40 to 50 degrees
Yes, serve it ice cold like beer. Some people put it in the freezer for 45 minutes before party guests arrive. Just don’t forget it or you’ll hear a pop coming from somewhere and suddenly you only have a half bottle left.
Very cold temperatures keep the bubbles from foaming and releasing their fizz. It keeps the taste sharp and the reaction strongly on your tongue.
A cheater’s way to save time is put a bottle into an ice bucket with ice and water. The water increases chilling time. Once you’ve opened the bottle, keep it on ice until the bottle’s empty. If the wine is too cold, decant it for a few minutes before serving.
White and Rose wine– 50 to 60 degrees
You’ll need at least four hours to chill it in the refrigerator so best to buy wine in the days before your party and leave it in the fridge. Oh, you can try to quickly chill it for 30 minutes in the freezer, but that can leave it too cold. Then you’re guessing how long to let it remain on the counter before serving. (The digital thermometer comes in real handy here.)
Once opening, leave the bottle on the counter to warm. It changes the taste slightly and your guests will feel like a second bottle has been opened.
If you’re serving a dessert wine, the crispness of serving it chilled provides a clean taste to break from the meal.
Red Wine – 60 to 70 degrees
We’re not saying room temperature (unless you live in a home where everyone wears a jacket.) Place the bottle in the refrigerator for one hour before serving. Maybe 15 minutes in the freezer in a pinch. Don’t be afraid to pour it into a decanter to warm because red can stand the heat.