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Jul 28, 2011 03:43 PM

Are red wines served too warm?

Since I'm the only wine drinker in my home, open bottles last a couple of days, so into the fridge. I have started chilling my reds before openning and and let the wine warm in the glass about 10 minutes before drinking and what a difference! My last 2 bottles of Petite Syrah were so much more mellow without the alcohol heat. This is fine for home, but eating out is more problematic.

I only order by the glass when dining out and it seems that reds served at room temp which can get hot in small bistro joints and even some large dining rooms. At least more places are offering half bottles that I can get quick chilled

Do we drink our red wine too warm? Meaning restaurants, wine-bars etc.

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  1. I've been chilling red wine and bringing them up to correct temp. for years. My kids stopped arguing with me about this after we did a Va. wine trail tour and the reds in the field were in ice filled buckets.

      1. Generally speaking? Not only are red wines too warm, but white wines are generally served too cold!

        68 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          From my experience, I totally agree with zin1953 on this. Generally, both reds and whites taste best to me when they are just slightly chilled.

            1. re: zin1953

              Ding! Ding! Ding! Red wines are not supposed to be served room temperature, but slightly cooler. We are fortunate to have a basement that is around 60 degrees for our cellar. We chill our whites either with water and ice or with an ice pack around the wine, (easily purchasable) but not overly so.

              1. re: MyNameIsTerry

                Depends on the red...not all are created equal. Cellar temp for a beaujolais is appropriate, but for a Bordeaux or California cab...not so much. Cooling accentuates the tannins...and that's a bad thing for a tannic red.

                Again, I'm differentiating between "room temperature" and "temperature in the room where the wine is stored/served". Two different things.

                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                  I would respectfully disagree . . .

                  Depending upon the Beaujolais, slightly chilled is appropriate . . . I've never met a Bordeaux or Cab that I didn't *prefer* at cellar temp than what is defined as "room temperature" in most of the US.

                  Then again, as this involves *your* personal preference, the bottom line is YMMV.


                  1. re: zin1953

                    Right, it's about personal taste...but I'm curious as to what red (if any) you prefer above 55F? Generally speaking...

                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                      This presumes that I actually measure the wine's temperature that accurately, doesn't it?

                      I honestly have no idea how many cases of wine I have in my main cellar, but I know at one point it was around 200 or so. Since the mid-1970s, I've relied on a passive cellar, either underground, or dug into a hillside. The temperature has been very steady, both during a 24-hour cycle, and a longer "seasonal" cycle -- in other words, the temperature does not vary much with outside conditions, and remains stable year-round. I haven't measured it for years, but it's right around 55-58 -- maybe during a prolonged heat wave, it might get up to 60.

                      Given where I reside now, I have approximately 7-10 cases underneath my house -- it's an unfinished basement that is exposed on one side, while the rest is dug into the hillside. Depending upon the weather, it's probably between 50 and 60 or so. I now actually have a "wine cooler" inside the house that holds 36 bottles and it's set to 55. Occasionally, I've seen the digital readout dip to 54, and rise to 56, but nothing more drastic than that.

                      Reds with sediment are stood up in the cellar for some period of time -- days, weeks -- before being decanted and served. Generally, reds too young to have sediment are pulled from the cooler inside the house and served, while whites are pulled from the basement and put into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so.

                      As a result, not only do I have no idea the actual service temperature of the wine at the time I pour the first glass, but I have no doubt that as the wine sits in the glass (or bottle or decanter) that it slowly rises slightly to our ambient room temperature. Since we do not have central air, and since our thermostat is set at 62 (honest!), most of the year the house remains pretty cool. But certainly there are times we eat out on the patio or on our deck, too . . .

                      I have a terra cota wine cooler that will keep a bottle cool that I'll use when the weather is too warm, and if that fails, there are always those VacuVin gel-packs.


                      1. re: zin1953

                        I don't think you need to accurately measure the temperature of the wine in your glass to know what you prefer above cellar temperature. If your cellar and house generally stay in the 55-62 range, than it's probably a safe bet that most of your red wine (that isn't additionally chilled) is in that range.

                        Honestly, I don't mean to be a pest or a troll, I do have an interest in this. You and a few others in here are obviously the Chowhound wine czars to be sure...while I, on the other hand, have had a maximum of one mixed case of Oregon pinots in my "cellar".

                        I've just found in my experience that if you drink a heavily tannic (or heavily oaked) wine at cellar temp (generally 55ish), than the astringent tannins or "oakiness" is too accentuated. Bring it up closer to "room temp" (68ish), and that part "mellows".

                        How's that for "quotes?. "Generally" speaking.

                        Am I the only one in here that feels that way? Or maybe I'm crazy and I need to change my drinking habits....

                        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                          Honestly, I find that all of the components you mention -- oakiness, tannic astringency, and the alcohol mentioned by Terry -- are more noticeable the warmer the wine is served.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            My experiences have been exactly the same - with too much warmth, usually comes the "heat" from the alcohol, and if one is having, say a big Zin with higher alcohol, that is accentuated. Same for tannins.


                          2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                            65-68ish is probably perfect for most red wines. Unfortunately, at least in southern CA, "room temperature" in many restaurants is likely 75 degrees, and possibly as high as 85...way too warm. Therefore, at least where we live, we often ask servers to bring an ice bucket to the table to cool red wine a bit.

                            1. re: josephnl

                              I feel the same, as you do.

                              Cannot recall the last time that I requested an ice bucket for a white, but often for my reds.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Now I'm really confused...on a post above you agree with zin and believe all reds should be served at cellar temp, and now above you believe 65-68 is appropriate for most reds.

                                I guess I won't get much backup on this board, but even the most perfunctory research on the topic will show a general consensus amongst "experts" that lighter reds should be 55ish (on one end of the spectrum) and heavy, tannic, oaked reds should be 65-68ish (on the other end). Of course most wine is served too warm. Of course 75+ degrees on ANY wine is too warm. That's not my argument.

                                55 degrees for a cab highlights tannins and suppresses the "good" components. 65-68 degrees? Supressess tannins and highlights good characterstics. 75-80 degrees? Awful.

                                But hey, to each their own right?

                                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                  I would agree that 65 - 68 is probably what I have found my big reds to taste best at, although I've never specifically measured.

                                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                    Don't worry about backup. You will just not get the last word . ;-)

                                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                             my palate also, lighter reds such as a Brouilly are much better when chilled to 55 or so.

                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                        a) Don't worry about backup.

                                        b) It's not ever a question -- or at least, it hasn't been -- of a SPECIFIC temperature.

                                        c) BIG generalization: the lighter the red, the cooler the temp; the heavier the red, the warmer the temp. 65-68 is STILL cooler than (most American) room temperature -- or, at least, was pre-energy crisis and central heating.

                                        Let me attempt to make this even clearer. . .

                                        As I have said elsewhere, I have a passive cellar -- the temperature is not artificially controlled; it is, in a sense, a true "cellar temperature." I pull a 10-15 year old Bordeaux from the cellar -- it's at cellar temp. I open it, decant it, and it opens up and (naturally) warms up . . . but it still isn't "warm."

                                        I do not disagree that -- automatically -- a Cabernet or a Bordeaux is horrible at 65, and I wouldn't want it to be above 68 under any circumstances . . . but, depending upon age, character, and a dozen (hundred?) other factors, I may not even want the wine that warm . . .


                                        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                          I am sorry, but can you point to my reply, stating that 65 - 68 is the desired temp. I expanded all, assuming that I had mis-typed, but could not find it.

                                          Maybe I am just missing something, and that you can show it to me.

                                          I bring my reds from the cellar at 55F, and often decant them. In AZ, the temp will rise a bit, but not THAT much, as the room temps in my home are about 70F. By serving time, the temp will elevate some, but not that much. If I need extended decanting time, the decanter is in the cellar at 55F, and then brought up to the dining room.

                                          As to a cooler red, especially a tannic one, I find that too warm will exacerbate the alcohol and the tannins. Too cold, and like whites, the fruit will be occluded.

                                          Thanks for pointing me to my mistake,


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            Josephnl: 65-68ish is probably perfect for most red wines.

                                            Bill Hunt response: I feel the same, as you do.

                                            Maybe you were only agreeing to another part of Josephs post.

                                            I think part of the problem here is that we are hung up on the term "room temperature". Of course generalizations are made in here...but I'm using "room temperature" in the classic sense - i.e. around 68 degrees (though I would say the GENERALLY that the heavy reds should be somewhere in the 65-68 range).

                                            Temperature in the room where the wine is stored and/or served is something entirely different. I guess I moved this away from "are red wines served too warm" - generally (yes) vs what are generally the ideal temps for certain reds.

                                            In some weird way, I actually think we are on the same page Zin and Bill.

                                            BTW, I was trying to think of a way to blind taste this...but since the temp would be pretty self evident once it hits the lips...I'm not sure how it could be done. I suppose some test could be done on the bouquet on a cold red vs warmer red.

                                            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                              Whatever you like. It's your wine, and you may serve it at any temp, that you like.



                                              PS- as the CH forum does not have block quotes, gotta' make sure that I select exactly the phrase/sentence, that I am replying to.

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                Right on, Hunt. My basic and really only rule with wine is, if it tastes good drink it!

                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  Bill and Joseph, I was reading this thread and thinking the same. If someone enjoys wine anywhere from room temperature to a wine slushy, then That's the temperature they enjoy it and let them drink it the way they like.
                                                  My personal preference is to have a red cooler than restaurants generally serve them, but that's MY preference.
                                                  (I'm not making the red-wine slushy thing up either, there is a wine-maker that sells them at my local farmers market for $7.00)

                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                    I don't think you'll find anyone in here (including myself) who doesn't prefer their reds "cooler than restaurants generally serve them".

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I think I'm living in the twilight zone. I need to get out of this thread before my brain explodes.

                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Makes we wonder, are there any absolutes whatsoever when it comes to wine? Heck, are there even any generalities? Just like food, I certainly think so. Are the flavors of a steak best represented by eating it well done?

                                                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                    In the end, it is what one enjoys most. If they like their Montrachets, and Cortons (whites) at 45F, so be it.

                                                    If they like their Cal-cabs and Bdx (reds) at 85F, so be it.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Yes, so be it...but...if somebody likes their cal-cabs and red bdx at 85F, then they don't like wine.

                                                      Just like somebody who like's their steak well done...they don't like steak. Not really.

                                                      Or, if somebody thinks Crapplebees is the best restaurant on the planet. Then they don't like food.

                                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                        I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not. Someone who likes steak well done, likes steak…. Well done
                                                        Someone who likes a wine to be warm….likes warm wine

                                                        Why would anyone want to eat or drink something they didn’t like?

                                                        1. re: cgarner

                                                          Agree to disagree I guess. What I'm saying is that if somebody likes to burn a piece of food like a steak to the point that it loses all flavor (and gains shoe leather flavor), then they don't like steak. They like shoe leather.

                                                          If somebody takes a glass of wine and adds 3 tablespoons of sugar to it, they don't like wine. They like wine coolers. Or they like wine with sugar added to it. But not wine.

                                                          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                            Sorry...but I must agree with cgarner. Just because you (and I) do not like an 85 degree cab or a well done steak, doesn't mean that our preferences are more valid than those who disagree with us. Preferences in food, wine and many things in life are a matter of personal taste, and no personal taste is more valid than another. Thank goodness that most of us are able to fall madly in love with persons whose physiques are not close to the sculptor's "perfection" of Michaelangelo's David, or Venus de Milo!

                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                              Agreed on your last sentence.

                                                              What about the wine example? If somebody puts 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar into their glass of 2000 Chateau Lafite, I don't believe they actually like "wine". At some point you bastardize the original ingredient to the point that it becomes something else entirely. That's all I'm saying.

                                                              Can you be a oenophile if you only drink Boone's Farm? Can you be a foodie if your favorite restaurant is McDonalds?

                                                              I just shot my horse and am now hitting it with a 2x4.

                                                              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                how about coffee? does adding sugar mean you don't like coffee? how about french fries, does adding ketchup mean you don't like french fries? does salting your steak mean you don't like steak.

                                                                you say if someone likes steak well done they dont like steak - i say horseshit. to YOU it tastes like shoe leather - to them it tastes like steak. well done. the way they like it.

                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                  Does adding sugar to that fine bordeaux mean you don't like wine?

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    I love coffee, and have consumed it for many decades, but do add sugar, and cream (not milk). I also strongly prefer raw sugar, and travel with it, just for my coffee. Good analogy.

                                                                  2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                    I've never heard of anyone adding sugar to a fine Bordeaux but I know many who enjoy a well done steak. Who's to say that a medium rare steak is "better" than a well done steak? That's how I prefer my steak, but I think it's wrong to assume that those who order steak well done, don't enjoy it as much as you or I might enjoy a medium rare steak.

                                                                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                      The sugar analogy is a bit strong, but is about how I feel about serving a nice red too warm - for me.

                                                                      As stated by me, and a few others, it is all about personal taste. You like the reds warmer than I do, and find faults when they are cooler. I find faults, when too warm, so prefer cooler. That is a difference between you and me.

                                                                      Were you my guest, I would try to warm the reds for you, and enjoy mine closer to cellar temp. Your choice would be your choice, and I would never hold that against you.

                                                                      To me, it is simple - wine should be about enjoyment. You like Syrah, and I like Cab Franc. So what? We like, what we like, and no one is "wrong," there is just a difference, and that is the point that I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to make.


                                                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                        Terms like "oenophile," and "foodie," are more often applied to a person, by them. Any term can be self-applied. Now, whether others will agree is something different.

                                                                        With regards to wine, others have applied many flattering terms to me. I usually answer that I am a "wino," and do not really know if those other terms apply.

                                                                        Now, in my past, I did drink some Boone's Farm, but then preferred Annie Green Springs (same genre of wine-like-product). I do not think that I have dined at a McDonalds in probably 35 years, but did do a fish sandwich back in about 1980.

                                                                        Do either insist that I cannot enjoy a glass of Schrader Old Sparky, or foie gras at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Mayfair?

                                                                        If you are happy with your reds warmer, than I choose, that does not reflect on any form of "right," or "wrong." Trust me on this - I will not hold it against you, but will chill mine more than the glass that I serve you.


                                                                    2. re: thew

                                                                      There have to be some absolute truisms. There have to be. Now you guys are hung up on steak and semantics. Focus on the wine part. Does that person who destroys that bordeaux actually "like" the taste of wine?

                                                                      What about this...if somebody likes their steak burnt to a char...absolutely blistered beyond all recognition...they don't like the taste of steak. They like the taste of char. A chemical reaction has occurred that changes that piece of meat from animal muscle to something completely different.

                                                                      Truisms exist with other things...why not taste?

                                                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                        "Does that person who destroys that bordeaux actually "like" the taste of wine?"

                                                                        Who would I be, to judge?

                                                                        I could be that the person does NOT like the tastes in that wine. Same with the steaks. They might not like the tastes, and prefer the char, or maybe they have been watching some TV "health report," and have decided that a burnt steak is more healthy? That is their call.

                                                                        I cannot imagine adopting a vegetarian style, and at any level. However, I know some level 5 Vegans, and that is their choice. It is not up to me to pass judgement, though I could never join them.

                                                                        They are drinking the wine, and are doing things that I would never do, or even think to do. Still, if it increases their enjoyment, it is little of my business - except that I now know to NOT serve Aunt Marge a fine Bdx... [Grin]


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          Hunt, in this busy adversarial world, you have a refreshingly simple live-and-let-live, " can't we all just get along " demeanor. I hope it goes viral!

                                                                      2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                        Now wait a moment. How can you apply that analogy, regarding steak?

                                                                        That was the earlier argument that I made for red wines being served too warm. For me, the alcohol and the tannins are all that come through - for me, yet because you feel the opposite, you feel that I am somehow wrong. Do you not find a paradox here?

                                                                        While I like my beef rare to med-rare (room temp center, but very red), and do not enjoy much above that, for personal preference reasons, if a guest wants the Kobe #3 well-done, I try to accommodate, though it does pain me a bit. In the end, if they enjoy it, who am I to question their choice? I just try to accommodate them, for their personal enjoyment.

                                                                        If Aunt Marge wants to put 7-Up in the Ch. Latour '74, that is her prerogative, though due to my pain at observing, I might make a mental note to NOT serve a nice Bdx, when she is a guest.


                                                                    3. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                      No. You do seem to be in some sort of "Twilight Zone." What I said was
                                                                      "If they like their Cal-cabs and Bdx (reds) at 85F, so be it.," and that pretty much say it all, in one little sentence. If you like them warmer, than I do, that is your choice. If you read anything into that, it was your own doing, as nothing was implied, beyond that personal tastes should dictate.

                                                                      I like my reds cooler, than you do. Who is correct? I am for me, but you are for you. It should be about what one enjoys most. Same with wines, themselves.

                                                                      Not sure what you are looking for here?


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Keep it up Hunt. Your "live and let live" words are refreshing on this site where unfortunately too many are intolerant of those whose views differ from their own.

                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                          Who is being intolerant? I actually resent that remark. Please point me to where (as others are also saying above) that I have said somebody is "right" or "wrong" in their preferences. I was simply trying (quite unsucessfully I might add) to say that there are indeed absolute truisms when it comes to taste / food / drink in general...just as there are with other things. I wish I could take back the steak comment as that obviously proved to be the wrong analogy. I still feel that if somebody alters their bordeaux in such a way as to make it unrecognizable (ie adding heaps of sugar) then they do not like the taste of wine. If you choose to say that they do, that is your choice.

                                                                          This site is, after all, a place to offer opinions and advice isn't it? What if I came in here as a newbie wine drinker and said "Hey guys, I just had a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 last night and it was the best wine I've ever had, I think it will be the only wine I drink from now on. You all should try it!". Now, Hunt (and others) being the diplomats that you are could certainly choose to say "Good for you! Welcome to the wonderful world of wine!". But I would hope not. It would certainly be within your right to say "you're wrong", but I would certainly hope and expect that you would instead offer up some opinions...recommending that this newbie try some other "starter" wines or at least some other pleasant tasting wines.

                                                                          And you know what? I'm sorry, but your view IS more valid. You, Hunt, have a lifetime more of experience with wine that you can draw from when making recommendations that will, ultimately (hopefully) prove to this newbie that there is a whole other world out there beyond Mad Dog.

                                                                          But, I guess in the end I will give up. I can't make the point I'm trying to be it.

                                                                          If I choose to add bacon grease to my glass of bordeaux, I do indeed like the taste of wine. If I only ever eat at McDonalds because I think it's the greatest restaurant on the planet, then I am a foodie. If I go to a sushi bar and grill my nigiri to an unrecognizable char with my handy pocket George Foreman grill, I do indeed like sushi. And if I prefer my heavily tannic, oaky reds at 65 degrees F instead of 55, then I do like red wine.

                                                                          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                            you have made the point you are trying to make. that doesn't mean everyone will agree with it

                                                                            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                              What seems to be lost here is that what one enjoys is personal.

                                                                              If 1000 people feel that you are drinking your reds too warm, but you like them that way, then you are correct.

                                                                              If 1000 people feel that you are drinking your reds too cool, but you like them that way, then you are correct.

                                                                              What others like, should be of zero concern to you. I might not like mine at that temp, but that is only how I like my reds.

                                                                              The same holds for varietals, styles, and so much more. It should always be about what YOU like. There is not "right," and no "wrong."

                                                                              Not sure what you are looking for, but if it's validation from me, you do not get that - however, that does not equate to right, or wrong - just personal preferences.

                                                                              Not at all sure how the bacon, the McDonald's references, or anything else figures in, beyond stating what you like. I might not agree, but that is due to personal choices, and nothing else.

                                                                              I like Chardonnay, but you hate it. You like Pinot Gris, but I dislike it. Nothing wrong with that picture, as I will drink my Chardonnays, and you, your Pinot Gris. Room for everyone in that arena, at least in my estimation.



                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                bill - i love you. i love that there are places where we agree completely, and others where are 180 degrees opposite of each other. it's grand

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  Yes, over time, there have been "moments," but I have great respect for your views, even when we are defending opposite tenants. That is what discussion should be about.

                                                                                  When that has happened, I have never felt that you have tried to drag me to your point-of-view, and only hope that I have not done so also. I try to state my point, and leave it, at that, and respect you, for doing the same.

                                                                                  However, when we agree, we can hoist a glass of nice Cab (at any temp that we wish), to each other. This one's for you - Joseph Phelps Napa Cab (at ~ 61F).


                                                                              2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                                >>> I was simply trying (quite unsucessfully I might add) to say that there are indeed absolute truisms when it comes to taste / food / drink in general... <<<
                                                                                Yes, well, the problem here is that are VERY FEW (if any) absolutes in life, generally, let alone in matters of taste. I can think of NO "absolute truisms" when it comes to wine, and very few that apply to food.

                                                                                >>> I wish I could take back the steak comment as that obviously proved to be the wrong analogy. <<<
                                                                                True that.
                                                                                >>> I still feel that if somebody alters their bordeaux in such a way as to make it unrecognizable (ie adding heaps of sugar) then they do not like the taste of wine. If you choose to say that they do, that is your choice. <<<
                                                                                Yes, but you see, no one has said that and THAT has not been the discussion.

                                                                                I sense your frustration, but you do yourself a disservice when you make the leap from the "micro," such as the temperature of a wine at service, and the "macro," such as someone add(ing) bacon grease to (a) glass of (B)ordeuax." No one has suggested that latter, and to veer that far afield negates any effective effort to make your point.

                                                                                This is also true with your analogy with MD 20/20. Now, personally, I'd love to see all high-proof fortified wines like MD 20/20 (and Thunderbird, Ripple, Cisco, etc.) be outlawed, but that's an entirely different discussion for an entirely different forum. But if you substitute, say, White Zin for MD 20/20 . . .

                                                                                >>> What if I came in here as a newbie wine drinker and said "Hey guys, I just had a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel last night and it was the best wine I've ever had, I think it will be the only wine I drink from now on. You all should try it!". Now, Hunt (and others) being the diplomats that you are could certainly choose to say "Good for you! Welcome to the wonderful world of wine!". But I would hope not. It would certainly be within your right to say "you're wrong", but I would certainly hope and expect that you would instead offer up some opinions...recommending that this newbie try some other "starter" wines or at least some other pleasant tasting wines. <<<

                                                                                May I tell you what MY response would be?

                                                                                I would indeed say "Congratulations! I'm very glad you found a wine you love. Welcome to the wonderful world of wine." But I would ALSO add suggestions for, perhaps, a White Zinfandel that was better than the Sutter Home, as well as a suggestion for some off-dry rosés, other blush wines, and so on . . . as well as asking questions of the poster -- why does he/she love that particular wine so much? what is it about *that* wine, compared to others, that makes it preferable? and so on . . .

                                                                                The difference is that I would NEVER say they were wrong, and -- in fact -- I do *not* think "it would certainly be within (my) right to say 'you're wrong'." I would never say that individual was wrong, any more than I would say the person who orders their steak well done was wrong, no matter how overcooked I might think it is.

                                                                                You know, when I worked for a winery in the Napa Valley back in the late-1970s, we were just excited that people were coming to Napa to taste wines. And we would always say to a visitor, for example, "You know, if you don't like our Zinfandel, you might want to try the one across the street . . ." The key was -- again -- simply that they were here, and we encouraged them to find wines they did like! Today, of course, people have to pay a fee at many wineries in order to taste, and far too many wineries treat visitors like they are doing them a favor by letting them come . . .

                                                                                >>> If I choose to add bacon grease to my glass of bordeaux, I do indeed like the taste of wine. <<<

                                                                                Again, completely off-target. A much better analogy would be ice. If someone adds an ice cube to the wine, that does not fundamentally alter the taste/flavor of the wine -- certainly not in the way that adding "heaps of sugar" or "bacon grease" would do. Now I've been known tp add an ice cube or two to a glass of wine I thought was too warm, while waiting for the bottle to cool. But it's one thing -- in my mind -- to add an ice cube to a $12 bottle of California Sauvignon Blanc, and quite another to add it to a $120 bottle of Corton Charlemage . . . but don't ask me where that line is drawn -- it's on a case-by-case (or rather, a bottle-by-bottle) basis.


                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                  The closest, that I can come to a wine "truism," would be that heavily TCA contaminated wines taste and smell bad - but then I would need to qualify that some seem to have zero sensitivity to TCA, so they might never notice.

                                                                                  Beyond that, it becomes a matter of taste, and personal preferences. Not that there is anything wrong with that.


                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                    "I still feel that if somebody alters their bordeaux in such a way as to make it unrecognizable (ie adding heaps of sugar) then they do not like the taste of wine."

                                                                                    Obviously not a direct response to Jason here, but to the poster. I would make one change to that statement. Here is how I would finish it, "... they do not like the taste of THAT wine... "

                                                                                    While I would be personally offended, that I had presented that guest with a wine, that they needed to alter drastically, if they then enjoyed it, so be it. I would make a note to myself to NOT serve that guest that type of wine, in the future. Still, if an adulteration to a fine wine allows them to enjoy said wine, then the problem is mine. I should not make that mistake again.


                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      Again, not to Jason's responses, but the thread has gotten a tad "misshapen."

                                                                                      "What if I came in here as a newbie wine drinker and said "Hey guys, I just had a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel last night and it was the best wine I've ever had, I think it will be the only wine I drink from now on. You all should try it!". Now, Hunt (and others) being the diplomats that you are could certainly choose to say "Good for you! Welcome to the wonderful world of wine!". But I would hope not. It would certainly be within your right to say "you're wrong", but I would certainly hope and expect that you would instead offer up some opinions...recommending that this newbie try some other "starter" wines or at least some other pleasant tasting wines"

                                                                                      I would definitely say "welcome." I started, so very many years ago, not too far from that point. Then, I had a major catharsis, and my life changed. Many here got such a start, and then moved on - some would say "upward."

                                                                                      Still, everyone must start somewhere, and the road can be very rewarding, at least to some.

                                                                                      Now, I would possibly recommend some Rosés, that are a bit more fruit-forward, and for the perception of "sweet," maybe some Rieslings, with plenty of fruit, if not some actual RS.

                                                                                      When I had MY catharsis, I had a great mentor. I would love to be able to share, what Dr. Jodi shared with me, with anyone else. To me, wine is meant to be shared.


                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        That's exactly how I think one can help a wine newbie learn to enjoy more wines. I am thinking about a friend who also really liked Sutter Home white zinfandel...the first wine he had tried. He was convinced he would not like any wine that was not sweet. I encouraged him to try a very crisp, apple-ly, grassy New Zealand sauvignon blanc that was bone dry, but very fruity. I served it to him with some grapes and green apple, and suggested that he compare the flavors. He loved the sauvignon blanc and insisted that it was wasn't...but has since learned to really enjoy the fruitiness of this wine. He still really enjoys various sauvignon blanks...and also some other fruit forward white wines. Red wines, are still not in his repertoire...but one day may be.

                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                          Yes, different wines, maybe paired with different foods, and maybe even with certain friends (?), can allow things to "click."

                                                                                          In my case, my poor wife had tried, and tried, as had some of her friends. I was just not "getting it."

                                                                                          One night, a great friend offered up a Pomerol Bdx (mostly Merlot in that blend), with a great meal. I accepted, though was not that excited about the wine. Well, as the evening progressed, I began picking up all sorts of impressions in that first glass. It changed, right before my eyes (well, actually my nose), and in wonderful ways. I was amazed, and while the conversation and the food was great, could not get enough time with that wine. I think that my nose was buried deeply in that glass for most of the night. I refused to let the server top my glass up, for quite some time, as I did not want to spoil how things were evolving.

                                                                                          When that night was over, I had been completely converted. The rest, as they say is history. In about 1982, I began a quest to sample as many really good wines, as I could. I am still on that journey, but it was one, that had to start somewhere.

                                                                                          Unlike the wines, that my wife and many of her tasting circle were recommending to me, this lovely Merlot was ideal with the meal, and then the conversation. It worked, where others had failed.


                                                                          2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                            To reply seriously . . .

                                                                            >>> Makes we wonder, are there any absolutes whatsoever when it comes to wine? <<<
                                                                            Extremely FEW, if any at all . . .

                                                                            >>> Heck, are there even any generalities? <<<
                                                                            Of course there are, it's just that for every generality, there are dozens (if not thousands) of exceptions!

                                                                            >>> Just like food, I certainly think so. <<<
                                                                            Really? Name two.

                                                                            >>> Are the flavors of a steak best represented by eating it well done? <<<
                                                                            Now speaking personally, I prefer my steak rare. My wife prefers it "blue." There is a difference between those two stages of cooking, while I will certainly eat a steak cooked blue, I definitely prefer it rare. It tastes better to me. OTOH, she loves a filet mignon, whereas I would much prefer a rib-eye for example. Again, to me, it tastes better. But if she were writing this, she would tell you that "blue" and the filet taste better!

                                                                            The same applies to how the steak is cooked. YOU (obviously) believe that the flavors of a steak are *not* "best represented by eating it well done," and while I would personally agree with you, clearly there are a heck of a lot of people ordering their steaks cooked "well done" each and every single day! Are they wrong? Who says so? Clearly they are being served a steak the way *they* like it, and what can possibly be wrong with that?

                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                              Again with the "right" and "wrong". It's not a right vs wrong, and I never said that. If this isn't a forum to show people other ways related to food & drink which just might be better, then what is?

                                                                              In spite of vocal opposition, I will continue to contend that at some point the subjective ("red wine is served too warm", or "66F is too warm for a red") turns into the objective (you don't know what you are talking about if you say "wine is best served at 212F"). An extreme example, but somewhere between 66 and 212F lies an absolute truth.

                                                                              If somebody does indeed like their wine at 212F, it's no longer wine. Or they have some physical condition that is causing a view so outside the pale as to render them ignorable in a civilized food/drink chat room. Or we can statistically call them an outlier, and continue to contend that there is an absolute truth, in spite of this one obvious anomoly.

                                                                              Same with steak -- somewhere on the spectrum between raw and burnt to a crisp, that steak loses it's "steak flavor". It just does. It's a chemical change that physically occurs. It's not a right or wrong...but if you eat a steak that has lost it's steak flavor, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that you do not like the taste of steak.

                                                                                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                                  i like wine. i also like hot wine mulled with spices. its still wine. great on an alpen slope after a day of skiing

                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                    Sort of a wine-based beverage, and I agree, nice served very warm, on a cold day.

                                                                                    An opposite analogy might be a wonderful Sangria, served over ice on a hot afternoon.

                                                                                    Neither suggests that either of us would serve our wines heated to steaming, or chilled with ice, on their own - however, if one would wish to do that, that is their option.


                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      Obviously both are delicious utilizing the appropriate wines and in the appropriate settings. Doubt that anyone would use a fine vintage bordeaux or burgundy for either, but these are great examples of how wine need not always be served at "optimal temperature".

                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                        Well, I would not, but that might not stop some others - again, their choice. I just do not want to see it...


                                                                                2. re: zin1953

                                                                                  And, just for the record, I don't care how you drink your wine or eat your steak.

                                                                                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                                    Gee, and up until now, I thought this was a rather civil discussion.

                                                          2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                            Room temp wine also accenuates the alcohol IMHO.

                                                        2. re: zin1953

                                                          for some reason that is one of the reasons why I enjoy reds though Zin. They can just be opened and poured, and generally speaking this leads to times when I am experiencing different temperatures while drinking them(because they are room temperature and not chilled).

                                                        3. budnball,

                                                          I agree with you that reds tend taste better a bit chilled. What I do is leave a few wine glasses in the freezer. After opening a bottle of red and decanting it, I pour it into the "frozen" wine glass. After 3 minutes or so, the wine is at a temperature I prefer. In the event it is too cool, I simply wait a minute or two more.

                                                          This may sound a bit "hokey" but it works pretty well.

                                                          I am sure this isn't something you would do with a good quality wine, but for the average wines I tend to drink I think it's fine.

                                                          I would be interested to hear what the experts / professionals like zin1953 think....

                                                          Good luck!


                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: HB_Jeff

                                                            The bottom line, Jeff, is that if it works for you, that's perfect!

                                                            It isn't something I would do for a couple of reasons: a) I would worry about the "thermal shock" to the wine as it goes from ambient temperature into a frozen glass, and b) I would worry about condensation on and in the glass as it is removed from the freezer. But -- seriously -- if you like the results, go for it!

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              Thanks for the prompt response zin1953!

                                                              It sounds like ctl98's suggestion below is a good way to go (take whites out of fridge 20 min prior to serving and place reds into fridge 20 min prior to serving).

                                                              I have learned something yet again here at Chowhound. I appreciate the sage advice of folks like zin1953 who are always willing to share with those of us who ask.....


                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                Please...what do you mean by "thermal shock"? I've seen wine experts...well known winemakers...take a bottle of red wine that was too warm and plunge it into an ice bucket without any apparent concern of "shocking" the wine. And really, will the minuscule amount of condensation which might occur from chilling a glass truly cause a detectible dilution? I would seriously doubt it! Both of these concerns sound pretty silly to an admittedly non-expert, but nevertheless a person who enjoys drinking excellent wine on pretty much a daily basis.

                                                                As I said earlier in this thread, I personally enjoy red wine at ~65 degrees or so (I'm not so sensitive that I need to use a thermometer), and at many restaurants and a home this usually means 5 minutes or so in an ice bucket.

                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                  You're close, but we've misunderstood each other by "this" much . . . .

                                                                  I, too, have been known to toss a bottle of wine that is too warm into ice -- or put ice cubes into my glass. I'm talking context, however, as well as two different wines. To wit,

                                                                  In my post above, I had in my mind a mature (aged) bottle of _______________. (Take your pick: Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cabernet Sauvignon, Brunello, etc.) I would NEVER throw that into an ice bucket, or pour it into a frozen glass. The wine is well-aged, and that sort of "thermal shock" will shut it down and, perhaps, ruin it.

                                                                  Now, on the other hand, were we speaking of a young Beaujolais, young Merlot, even a young Cabernet -- that would present little of no problem . . .


                                                                  FWIW, I do not use a thermometer, and I, too, have asked restaurants for an ice bucket for reds, and rarely for whites.


                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                    thx for the post...I guess there is nothing wrong with my habit of never chilling or fridging them(I like reds more too which might be a coincidence//not sure)

                                                                    1. re: creamsherry

                                                                      Certainly not if you like them that way . . . .

                                                                      I also have the "benefit" of having my wines stored in a cool place, and when I pull an older bottle from the cellar, it already *is* cooler-than-ambient temperature.

                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                        that's a good point and ideal. I don't have that luxury but do have a cellar so I should probably work something out sometime.

                                                            2. My general rule is take whites out of the fridge for 20 minutes before serving, and place reds in the fridge 20 minutes before serving. This allows the whites to warm down a bit and the reds to cool up a little bit. I read somewhere in the past, and have been doing it regularly. Works like a charm each time.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ctl98

                                                                    "and place reds in the fridge 20 minutes before serving."

                                                                    Hi, how warm is your cellar? Mine is around 55 so I always have to let my reds warm up. To each his/her own though.

                                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                                      my "cellar" is the temperature of my apartment, as it is a wine rack by the dining room table

                                                                    2. re: ctl98

                                                                      Another vote for the 20-20 rule. There is no 55 degree cellar in Florida, just machinery.