“Internet village idiots”, as Umberto Eco used to call them, have attacked and mocked these days a photo posted by 中餐意酒 Zhong Can Yi Jiu. In the picture the talented Sommelier Zhuang SongTao is tasting Poggio al Teo Chianti Classico DOCG 2015 by Valiano estates on a hot summer day in Fujian. The glass shows some condensation and the anonymous keyboard warriors (actually incompetent donkeys) wrote: "Frozen Chianti Classico and Chinese sommelier, do not make me laugh, please!". The wine was not frozen and Zhuang SongTao, like all Chinese school sommeliers, followed the rules strictly. True connoisseurs have understood and appreciated.
The tasting of a wine at its correct serving temperature, when the outside climate is hot, is not always simple and immediate, and becomes more complicated when the wine in question is a red one. Hence the classic dilemma for wine newbies: “How to drink a glass of red wine at room temperature, if the room temperature far exceeds 30 degrees?” Don’t panic because even red wines can be cooled down! Indeed, let's debunk myth and say that red "must be refrigerated" if the tasting takes place in extraordinary warm places.
When we talk about "room temperature" we are referring in fact to a convention, to the ideal tasting environment: a cellar at 12-14 degrees, temperatures that we will hardly have in our homes or even more so if outdoors in summertime.
So, whether you find yourself tasting a good red label in a tavern in the historic center of Venice or in a Hong Kong rooftop bar on an August evening, the ice bucket can therefore be your ally in fighting the negative sides effects that external heat could have on your glass of wine.
Respecting the right serving temperature, which stands at 14-16 degrees for younger red wines with medium tannins and 16-18 degrees for more complex and full-bodied red wines, is certainly important for a correct tasting experience and interpretation of the wine.
Different serving temperatures emphasize different components of the wine, stimulating the perception of different organoleptic characteristics: a cooler temperature will enhance the hardness of the wine such as freshness and fruity flavors; on the contrary, a higher temperature will enhance the perception of alcohol and smoothness of the wine, emphasizing the spicy and tertiary notes.
Therefore, tasting a wine at too high a temperature would create the risk of having a marked perception of alcohol on the nose and mouth, a flattening of the aromatic components and little perception of tannins.
So, if also during summertime you want to indulge in the pleasure of tasting a glass of red wine, do not worry, you can ask the waiter for a bucket with ice to keep it cool without the fear of committing heresy! While at home, if you do not have a cellar, it will be enough to place it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes before tasting and keep it at a constant temperature in a glacette with water and a little bit of ice.
Also remember that the temperature of the wine increases from 1 to 3 degrees once poured, so it is advisable to serve the wine at about 2 degrees cooler than the ideal temperature, in order to taste it at the correct one.