19

I've had several occasions by now when a red wine was clearly too warm on a hot day (a young wine with comparatively volatile bouquet and at room temperature that was way above the typically recommended drinking temperature for that kind of wine) and I wanted to place it into the refrigerator in order to get it closer to a temperature where its aromatic composition was in better harmony with the drinking experience. Each time, that was treated like the act of a lunatic even when the significant divergence from the recommended serving temperature was acknowledged.

I am certainly no expert on wine; like with other stuff I don't dive into regularly, it tends to take far too much investment (effort and price) to arrive at a result that sits ok-ish for me.

But I am not talking about chilling red wine to actually cool temperatures, but merely bringing them to temperatures that I feel are more in line with the character of their respective bouquet. I mean, there are after all different recommended serving temperatures and my own taste (I am oversensitive to smells) appears to roughly match the basic idea.

So if refrigerators are considered barbaric, what are allowed means for a red wine to reach serving temperature when it already is too warm?

8
  • 12
    I once new a woman who chastised me for having an after dinner drink before dinner. What other people consider "barbaric" you are completely comfortable with. AND it seems imminently reasonable. Jul 2 at 23:16
  • 5
    What's the problem with fridge...or freezer...or ice bucket?
    – moscafj
    Jul 3 at 1:37
  • 6
    Your friends' minds would be blown by my wine fridge then, that has a preset for reds with its own button
    – Chris H
    Jul 3 at 11:14
  • 2
    This is clearly One Of Those Things like "aeration" and not using soap on cast iron. Folks get all kinds of notions from the rumor mill and social media.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jul 3 at 17:10
  • 1
    Follow your heart, pour it over ice and serve with a straw. If people look at you weird, apologize for forgetting and add the little paper umbrella.
    – Willk
    Jul 13 at 1:05

7 Answers 7

27

Putting your bottle of wine in the fridge is fine. Even the BBC says so, as does Wine Enthusiast.

It's even OK if you forget about it, let it get down to 5deg, then take it out and let it warm up to the recommended 15deg.

6
  • 8
    Can you check your links? The first one goes to google and not the BBC so every user will get different results. The second one pops up some potential scamming warning on my computer and doesn't load unless I ignore the warning.
    – quarague
    Jul 4 at 8:00
  • @quarague If I follow the Google link, the first result is this BBC Good Food article, which I think is what FuzzyChef meant to link. And I don't get any warning about the Wine Enthusiast link. What does yours say?
    – wjandrea
    Jul 4 at 22:54
  • BBC link fixed, thanks @Masclins !
    – FuzzyChef
    Jul 5 at 18:08
  • No warning on the Wine Enthusiast link, and their SSL cert checks out. Are you using a really old browser, @quarague?
    – FuzzyChef
    Jul 5 at 18:10
  • I don't know what is going on with the second link. I could load the page inbetween but currently I get a warning message. It says the security certificate is from fortinet.com and not from winemag.com and then claims this could be a sign of someone trying to impersonate a different website.
    – quarague
    Jul 6 at 6:16
18

There's nothing wrong with using the refrigerator if you remember to take the wine out. Else perhaps run a large volume of cold water (e.g. into an ice bucket or the bath) and put it in that, with or without some ice.

As someone who is into wine, I fully agree that red can be served too warm, particularly a relatively light red. People are brought up on "red should be served warm, white should be served cold" and put red in the microwave and white in the freezer. In fact as an average, red should be served at cellar temperature (somewhere between 14 and 18 degrees C) which is significantly cooler than many people keep their houses, particularly on a hot day.

3
  • 2
    This. My house currently sits at about 24 degrees during the day. That would suck for 99% of red wines
    – SirHawrk
    Jul 4 at 5:12
  • 1
    Just an obligatory safety note: Do not put a bottle of wine (or really any other liquid) in the microwave. Especially if it's unopened. Jul 5 at 14:36
  • +1 to @DarrelHoffman. But also, if you think you need to heat wine up in the microwave, then (mulled wine aside) you are doing it wrong.
    – abligh
    Jul 5 at 14:38
1

I use a wine cooler, which is like a mini fridge that acts as a cellar and uses a different cooling technology that isn't as powerful as a full kitchen fridge but it's cheaper. You can find a good one online around $200-300 that will maintain the perfect temp for red wine. I'm with you - I think the fridge is too cold since it kills the taste a bit and I don't want to wait for it to warm up, so a specialized cooler made a huge difference to me. You can set the ideal temp away from a kitchen fridge but out of the too-warm house atmosphere.

What the others said was correct, of course - you can use a kitchen fridge or do whatever works for you because ultimately a "proper" way doesn't exist since it's so subjective.

1

As already suggested, if this is a frequent issue you encounter and you are into wine you may want to invest in a Wine Cooler.

It is a small refrigerator like device but far less powerful that maintains bottles at a constant desired temperature, emulating cellar environment. They come in various shapes and sizes, but the most practical ones for domestic use are probably the counter top ones about a regular oven or microwave oven size.

enter image description here

Some can be embedded into kitchen cabinets or furniture for a more pleasant look. Price may go anywhere from 200€ to 400€ or higher.

enter image description here

If this is unpractical, too big of an investment, or not available where you plan to consume your wine, a cheaper alternative may be a simple chilling sleeve like the ones used on champagne bottles you can probably get on the cheap.

enter image description here

Keep them in the freezer or refrigerator ready for any contingency.

Another lower tech solution, if you are caught unprepared a simple ice bucket may suffice

enter image description here

These last suggestion always require supervision, of course, to not exceed the lower end of recommended temperatures.

0

The generally accepted way is probably the wine fridge others have already suggested, set to a temperature that is OK for red wine – opinions may vary on that, generally somewhere in the neighborhood of 15–20°C.

The other option is a cellar which is cooler than the rest of the house.

If you have AC in at least one room, keep the bottle in there before serving. Again, opinions may vary, but personally I find room temperature (20–23°C) perfectly acceptable for red wine. On the other hand, I prefer red wines that are on the heavier side.

If neither of these are available, a portable electric cooler box (the kind you can hook up in the car) might do the trick, especially if you can adjust the power/temperature. In a hot environment, the average cooler box may not even reach fridge temperature, but something that gets closer to the recommended drinking temperature for red wine. If you happen to have a thermometer (the meat thermometer sold by a major European furniture outlet for less than € 10 should work well for this), you can even monitor the temperature.

Lastly, you can always fill a large vessel (preferably a well-insulated one) with cold tap water and place the bottle in there, which should also get the wine close to the recommended serving temperature. (Again, a thermometer helps you monitor the result.) Some wine snobs may still give you weird looks because they are not expecting a bottle of red wine to be wet on the outside.

0

where its aromatic composition was in better harmony with the drinking experience.

This is the point - you should drink it at the temperature you like it. You may want to check what others say and give it a try because, who knows, it is even better.

I drink red wine cold (7-10°C), straight from the refrigirator. I really dislike it when it is warmer. This is also the case with cheese: I find warm cheese disgusting.

I am French :)

So if refrigerators are considered barbaric

Temperature is temperature, no matter how you got to it. There may be special cases where the path of your temperature change matters, but not for a liquid such as wine.

0

What, you don't keep your reds in a wine cellar?! Perhaps that is why your snobby "friends" believe you're a barbarian lunatic. ;p

Seriously though, as others have already mentioned, sticking a bottle of red into a fridge to cool it down is fine. However, if you KEEP your reds in your fridge, they will eventually get below room temperature (or whatever temperature range you prefer for them), and you may have to take them out for a few hours to get UP to the right temperature. (btw, if you want to have some fun with your friends, cool a red down the temperature for white wines and conduct a blindfolded tasting with them. I bet half or more won't identify the wine as a red!)

If you really want to cool your wines to a precisely controlled temperature, use an immersion circulator (the kind you use for sous vide) and a water bath. The problem though is that it will take a long time (glass is a terrible conductor of heat) and most likely the label will come off by the time the contents of the bottle come to temperature. The upside though is you'll get to really blow your friends' minds with the extreme lengths you're willing to go to serve them wine at the "right" temperature! ;-)

1
  • re the fun with friends, see this QI clip - link
    – Dragonel
    Jul 5 at 22:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.