Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To chill or not to chill

One of my readers (hopefully a fan) recently asked a good question. Why is it that you chill white wine but serve red wine at room temperature? Normally I would answer this type of question in an authoritative deep baritone voice with a slightly snobish accent like "Most full bodied red wines should be served at the 60 to 65 F range and light bodied white wines should be served at a temperature range of between 34 to 50F". While this fact is true, the reality is most us don't have wine cellars or wine storage units that keep our Syrahs and Chardonnays at a specific temperature until they are ready to be poured into a glass. We have an overcrowded refrigerator full of leftovers for our white wines and a kitchen counter for the red wines. Also, the bulk of wines sold at the LCBO and SAQ are purchased and consumed with in a 24 to 48 hour period so storage is really not an issue for the average consumer.
So let’s set the scene for the average consumer. Little Billy’s Mom and Dad are out for the day running errands, doing groceries and Dad decides to pick up a bottle of wine that he wants to have with that big hunk of meat he’s going to char (and claim that it’s Cajun style) on the BBQ tonight. They also pickup the latest copy of Land of the Lost 28 to keep Billy entertained while they sit down to enjoy a glass of wine before dinner. Now before Dad pops the cork on the wine, he needs to know 3 tidbits about wine and temperature.

1 Cold temperatures accentuate tannins in red wine
2 Cold temperatures accentuate fruit flavours and acidity in white wine
3 Wine does not like extreme swings in temperature so don’t leave your wine in the back seat of your car on   a 35C day until it’s the same temperature as your coffee

So if Dad put the Riesling in the fridge before dinner and let it chill for a couple of hours, the aromas and taste of fresh pear and apple fruit plus the mouthwatering feel of the acidity in the wine should standout. You will get a feeling of freshness and crispness in your mouth. On the other hand, putting a Cabernet Sauvignon in the fridge will increase the tannic feel or mouth drying sensation over power the taste of the fruit flavours, cedar and spice. Serving the Cabernet at room temperature allows the fruit and tannins to be more balanced in your mouth. Now before people start writing me and shouting that some red wines can be chilled. The answer is yes you can chill some light bodied red wines.

Here's this week's wine reviews

Pfaffenhein - 2008 - Pinot Blanc

There's something to be said about the way they make Alsace wines. This Pinot Blanc is pale yellow in colour with a bit of a greenish hue. It has a nice floral aroma with some pear and apples. The mouth feel is a light  blend of citrus, green apple, pear and honey with a long smooth finish.
Price - under $13 (LCBO)
I like this wine because of it's fresh crisp citrus flavour and dry finish. It could be paired with BBQ chicken breasts or fresh fish. A nice wine for a quiet evening at home.

Gnarly Head - 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you like Gnarly Head's Zinfandel, you'll love this dark ruby red Cabernet Sauvignon with an aroma of dark cherries, cedar and smoke. Cherries are up front on the palate with some dark chocolate and oak flavours. This is a medium tannic wine with a medium finish
Price - under $15 (LCBO)
I like this wine because it's not that the big bold Cabernet Sauvignon's that can be overpowering. The tannins are there but they don't obscure the dark cherries. Serve it with that big BBQ steak


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rehashing the past

Well, my mid term exam is done and my score was pretty well the class average. My wine tasting scores were slightly higher than the written exam portion so the lesson for this week is "more studying and less wine drinking" or maybe it should be study "as much" as you drink wine but don't study while you drink wine. Maybe that's where I went wrong? I went 1 for 3 on naming the varietal for each wine tasting which was a little disappointing. I had picked Viognier, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. The actual wine selection for the exam was Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. My identification of colour, aroma, taste, body and finish helped give me most of the points I needed which means I'm still having trouble matching the key aroma indicators and taste characteristics to the varietal. Some wines like Cabernet Sauvignon are a little easier because the intensity of the aromas and the vinification techniques make them stand out. Wines like Viognier and some Chardonnays are a little more difficult because of different vinification. Steel tanks instead of oak barrels and other techniques can make these wines similar in aroma and taste. Practice, practice, practice.
Enough said about my mid term. It's time to move on rather than rehash the past in an effort to figure out my wrong doing. It's like trying to figure out why we listen to politicians make campaign promises even though we know that they don't intend on keeping any of them. We just can't help ourselves.   

 Here's this weeks wine reviews

Cono Sur Viognier -2009 - Valle Du Colchagua, Chile

  A pale yellow medium body Viognier with a nice aroma of pineapple, apples, pears and honey. It has a slight effervescent feel with a taste of apples, honey, melon and a nice balance of acidity and fruits.
Price - under $10 (LCBO)
I like this wine because of it's crispness and fruit. It's an excellent alternative to a Chardonnay. It could be served with some BBQ pork chops and grilled asparagus.

Misterio Malbec - 2009 - Mapu Mendoza Argentina

 Wow ! This deep red Malbec has fruit up front with blackberries and a bit of a toasty aroma. It's a medium to full body wine rich in fruit, smoothness, a bit of vanilla and medium tannins. It's an excellent value at under $9 (LCBO) . There's something about bringing a Malbec like this one to a party. People immediately want to try it out once they smell the aroma. Good value for the price.

Cheers !