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The New Summer Refresher: Chilled Red Wine
Why don't people chill red wines? It's all about tannins, Oldman says, which come from grape skins and seeds. They're used in the making of red wine but not white. Tannins are often described as tasting bitter and puckery (they're also why strong black tea can taste astringent), and cooler temperatures make them more prominent. But light reds have imperceptible tannin levels, so chilling those varieties isn't a problem. In fact, doing so will make the wine taste more refreshing and will help "focus" its flavor. It will also make it taste less alcoholic, or "hot," in winespeak.
What's "room temperature," anyway? These days, it can be 73 degrees, which is a far cry from the room temperature of the drafty manor houses of a century ago, where many modern-day wine-drinking habits were born. Actually, Oldman notes, 73 is actually too warm for most wine.
Which red wines taste good cold? Beaujolais nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages, Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, Chinon and Rioja Crianza.
Okay, so how cold should they be? Oldman doesn't worry about exact temperature. Ten minutes in an ice bucket or 20 minutes in a refrigerator ought to do it. You may have to experiment to find out what you like best: Some people like espresso, some like regular coffee drowned in cream.
Which wines should stay out of the refrigerator? Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo and Petite Syrah, since they're known to carry higher amounts of tannin, will taste too bitter if they're served cold.
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