To chill or not to chill red wine. That is the big question.
One of my favorite wines is WineShop At Home Dolcetto. This red wine is originally from the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s a very fruity wine that is typically served slightly chilled.
Last night, at the wine tasting I led, I poured each person two sips of Dolcetto, one at room temperature and the other chilled. Every person at the tasting preferred the chilled Dolcetto.
Why does chilling make such a difference? It tempers the alcohol taste, suppresses the wine’s aromas, highlights the wine’s tannins and oak, and allows the subtler flavors to come to the surface.
Dolcetto’s fruitiness and low tannins make it a perfect wine for chilling. The Dolcetto we tried had an alcohol content of 14.5%! So the chilling did a good job of hiding the high alcohol level. It also enabled the subtle fruity flavors to surface. We found the chilled Dolcetto to be much more lively and flavorful than the non-chilled version.
What if you were to chill a full-bodied, intense red? Sadly, the suppression of the wine’s aromas would have a huge impact on the wine’s flavor, since smell and taste are so closely linked. So you would end up with an oaky, tannic wine that is missing some of the more subtle flavors.
According to etiquettescholar.com, red wines are typically served warmer than whites, because warmth reduces the astringent tasting tannins, smoothing out a red wine’s flavors. Younger red wines with full tannins and less developed flavors do better served at warmer temperatures, while aged reds or reds with lower tannins can stand a bit of cooling.
A basic rule of thumb is that the sweeter the red, the cooler it can be served. Just be careful not to chill it to the point where it loses its bouquet.
I encourage you to experiment with chilling some of your red wines. In addition to Dolcetto, I often chill my Pinot Noirs. If you don’t like the wine you chilled, you can quickly warm it up by putting your hands around your wine glass.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about chilled red wines.