Never wear white after Labor Day. Always send hand-written thank you notes immediately following the receiving of a gift. You cannot start a sentence with a prepositional phrase. WHO SAYS? And, for that matter, who says that you can’t enjoy a perfectly chilled red wine, just as you would a white? If this idea blows your mind, you are not alone. But don’t worry—we’ve thoroughly researched this shocking idea. Not only is it totally kosher, but in the right context (read: not all contexts), a chilled red—so refreshing, elegant, and vibrant—is absolutely required. Eat your heart out, Emily Post. We’re taking this ice bucket challenge head on!
The Icy Truth
First: let’s recap. Why do we normally chill whites and not reds? Chilling turns up the volume on the refreshing acid elements of white wine, a huge part of their appeal. Lightly chilling any wine is always best, as chilling too cold will curb the full bloom of a gorgeous bouquet (can’t smell it, can’t taste it). Big-flavored reds would be greatly diminished by a hard freeze, and are usually best when served at room temperature due to their grainier tannins (those tannins become smoother the warmer the wine gets). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t subtly chill a red now and then. Read on to find out how you can chill out while slathering on the barbecue sauce
Pick: Try a zesty Zinfandel paired with killer baby back ribs. Chronic Cellars 2014 Dead Nuts (74% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 10% Tempranillo) is juicy and fruity showcasing black cherry, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Mapping and Directions to Chronic Cellars: speedfind.com/ChronicCellars
If you’re barbecuing for a group, you probably don’t have time to travel back and forth to the fridge to check on your red’s temperature (plus, God forbid you forget about it altogether and go for the beer). A short five-minute bath in an ice bucket or cooler will do the trick. Any more than that, and you run the risk of completing numbing out the flavor, which is not what we’re going for here. The idea is to bring the acid and refreshment elements up in the red wine without snuffing out any of its tantalizing and complex flavors. If in doubt, chill for a shorter period of time than you think the bottle needs. No one will complain that their red isn’t “cold enough.”
Pick: Try a fruity, fairly acidic red paired with mushroom and black bean burgers. Sextant Winery’s 2014 SLH Pinot Noir offers up a breeze of wild strawberries, lavender, anise and red currant bliss. Another great choice?
Mapping and Directions to Sextant Winery Paso Robles: speedfind.com/SextantWines
Mapping and Directions to Sextant Winery San Luis Obispo: speedfind.com/Sextant
Make Bigger Better
Here’s a neat trick. Next time you’re serving up a big, fruit-forward very high alcohol red, give it a quick chill. Now, give that sucker a second try. Of course, the first taste was absolutely delicious, but you may notice that on the second taste there is a bit more structure to the wine—a new clarity, a crisper balance. Fancy wine editors and winemakers already know that a quick shot of cool temperature has the ability to enhance high alcohol reds and really bring out their playful, more acidic attributes. Cool party trick, huh?
Pick: Clavo Cellars 2011 Zinfandel Desperado (100% Zinfandel) would go great with grilled tri-tip crusted with black pepper. This fabulous wine peaks at 15.25 percent alcohol and has won some major awards (2016 Gold Medal San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition; 2016 Gold Medal Central Coast Wine Competition). That means it’s a perfect candidate for a brief chill, but you would never want to give it too cold a shoulder. Hoyt Family Vineyards Dylema, was actually created for the Malibu Chili cook off and features mostly Cabernet Sauvignon—known for its high sugar and alcohol content. This Gold Medal winner is named after the owners’ kids, (Dylan and Emma) and is fun, smooth, and easy on the palette (i.e. perfect barbecue wine).
Mapping and Directions to Clavo Cellars: speedfind.com/ClavoCellars
Mapping and Directions to Hoyt Family Vineyards: speedfind.com/HoytFamilyVineyards
Mapping and Directions to Hoyt Family Vineyards Downtown Paso Robles Tasting Room: speedfind.com/HoytFamilyRabbitHole
But it’s not proper!
No, it’s not, really. However, anyone who has been to Europe in the summer has probably experienced a chilled red or two (when temps rise, chilled reds and blushes do too). If anyone laments your bold chilled choice, first—ask them to try the wine—and if that doesn’t win them over, head to the internet, where you can find tons of articles written by pros championing the practice of chilling the odd red. Heck, show them this blog post. They’ll get over it. Or, more wine for you!
Ice, Ice Baby
While a red solo cup filled with to the brim with ice cubes, a solid grocery store Chardonnay and a slice of lime is totally apropos for a pool party, it is not a great choice for higher quality (read: more spendy) wines. Reds are generally higher priced than whites, so the stakes here are a bit higher here. While a quick chill won’t ever ruin your red and can actually enhance it, ice cubes will melt quickly and are known for diluting the flavor quicker than you can say, “Grill’s hot!” Just don’t do it. Some rules are meant to be left unbroken.
This blog was written by Hayley Thomas Cain, food and wine writer for SLO New Times and PasoRoblesWineries.net. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on instagram @flavorslo.
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