‘It’s Christmas in the bush and the sun burns hotly through the gums. Down the road old Rogan comes for a bite of tucker and a beer. Mum’s in the kitchen cooking up a turkey and plum pudding’ a quintessential tail of a hot Australian Christmas by C.J. Dennis’s A Bush Christmas.
Yes that’s right Christmas time is upon us – the festive season. It’s time to have a think about whether you need to chill those wines down this Christmas because it will no doubt be a warm one and the temperature of the wine will make a difference to your wine experience this summer!
So what to do – chill or not chill this festive season?
The best place to start is to understand what makes up the wine experience. This comes down to three terms you might have heard bandied around a lot – aroma, flavour and taste. Aroma is the smell, the fragrance or the nose created by aromatic compounds. Taste is the mouth feel; sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami (savoury). Flavour is what the brain interprets as the combined smell and taste. It is the outcome of the aroma and the taste. If the brain smells something citrus and tastes something acidic/sour it might associate the flavour to lemon.
So how does temperature influence this?
The answer is pretty straight forward. If wines are too cold their aroma is supressed and if too warm our palate tends to find this unpleasant. This impacts our taste sensation and the subsequent flavour of the wine. But unfortunately we are all individual so our preference as to ‘how cold and how warm’ is really down to personal taste, like so many things to do with wine!
NEVER FEAR there are some general rules about wine temperature.
Whites & Sparkling White wines are generally at their best between 6° to 10°C. Lighter bodied whites like our Tahbilk Marsanne, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc tend to present better at the lower end of the scale and the fuller bodied whites, aged Marsanne or Riesling, or Chardonnay at the top end.
Sparkling wines are also best between 6° to 10°C and, as with whites, lighter styles like our Tahbilk Blanc de Blancs or Dalfarras Prosecco stand better at the lower end and the richer style Tahbilk ‘Coueslant’ Marsanne & Shiraz at the upper.
If not already in the fridge, most white and sparkling wines will chill down to a good drinking temperature after one and a half hours in a normal home refrigerator. If you need to cool it faster, an ice bucket filled with ice and water will do the trick in about 30 minutes. (A Tip: To aid in the speed of chilling, place the bottle upside down, neck first into the ice-bucket).
Reds & Rosé goes with the classic temperature guide for serving reds is ‘room temperature’. When people talk about room temperature they are generally talking 20°C, a comfortable ambient temperature. There is no harm, depending on your house temperature and how you like it, putting your reds in the fridge for a few minutes which can bring out some great flavours. Tahbilk Grenache Mourvèdre Rosé, Dalfarras Sangiovese Rosé and Everyday Drinking EDD Rosé – would be the obvious “reds” to be chilled and would be best served at 8° to 12°C.
Lighter reds that also taste great from the fridge would include wines like Tahbilk Pinot Noir or the Everyday Drinking Chairman’s Red. Aim for 10° to 14°C before serving.
Chilled reds generally taste spicier and less powerful, quite refreshing for a hot day. Medium bodied varieties and blends, along the lines of Tahbilk Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Dalfarras Tempranillo and Sangiovese, pop them in the fridge for 20 minutes and you’ll notice how fresh the wine becomes. Be somewhat circumspect with medium to full bodied reds like Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz but even they can be given a slight chill to take the edge off. (A Tip: To cool your reds without the benefit of a fridge throw in an ice cube (shock, horror!), give it a swirl, leave it in for a minute or so, fish it out, lick your fingers and enjoy!)