by Anthony Dias Blue
Most wine lovers I know eventually wind up using their refrigerators as wine storage. In my own kitchen, where the regular Sub-Zero fridge is usually chock full of my wife’s gourmet food purchases, I splurged for a dedicated wine refrigerator. It has a humidity control. Don’t store wines long-term in a standard fridge: it’s too damp and the corks will eventually go bad. But keeping bottles in the fridge for a period of up to four weeks is fine.
As the weather begins to heat up, I usually start thinking about how to best stock my unit with crisp whites and refreshing rosés for warm-weather quaffing. I even throw in a few bottles of user-friendly red, chilling them down for serving on warm summer evenings. And let’s not forget sparklers. If in doubt about how much to chill your wine, err on the side of colder – the wines will warm as they’re served.
A nicely chilled bottle from Sacha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans, one of my favorite rosé producers.Imported by Shaw-Ross International Importers.
A Hint of Tint
Rosé is nearly the perfect warm-weather wine, which is why it’s the de rigueur quaff at sidewalk cafés in the South of France during the warm months. Made from red grapes separated from their skins shortly after the winemaking process begins (or, more rarely, by adding finished red wine to white wine), pink-tinged roses retain some of the character and body of reds while delivering the refreshing quality of whites. They’re available as single varietals or as blends. Serve rose wines chilled to around 45-50 degrees.
Almost all white wines should be chilled, but don’t overchill Chardonnay: it kills the complexity. Around 50-55 degrees is best; the flavors will open as the Chard warms. Viognier is a recent favorite that even goes with notoriously food-unfriendly artichokes; Italian Pinot Grigio is lush and goes great with grilled fish.
Both these wines have a more viscous texture and can stand a bit more chill. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is nearly perfect for summer drinking, with its juicy, intense fruit and streak of racy acidity. Bright, minerally Albariño from Spain makes a charming aperitif. Serve both at around 50 degrees.
Rhine and Dine
German Riesling is possibly the most undervalued white wine in the world. This grape’s brilliant, piercing peach flavors and searing acidity make is a delight, especially for more formal summer entertaining. A rule of thumb for German wines says the sweeter the wine, the more chilled it should be. Kabinett- and Auslese-level wines selected for dinner or aperitif use should be in the 45-50 degree range.