Ideally all wines should be served at their perfect temperature, so that the wines can express all their goodness (bouquet, aromas, balance, structure) in the glass.
A wine served too hot, will taste flabby, alcoholic, disjointed, all its elements will appear to be separated instead of together/ integrated in a knit as they should be.
A wine served too cold, will be mute, highly acidic and tannic, because acid and tannins increase with low temperature.
So, one must put some effort to keep the balance of the elements that the winemakers worked so hard to get inside the bottle.
Now, you probably heard something like this, “red wines should be served at room temperature”, but what is room temperature? Not the 75ºF (24ºC) that we can find in most homes, and let’s not start talking about the temperatures of wines served at restaurants, I read an article once by Anthony Giglio, (Food and Wine Magazine) he went to several restaurants and ordered red wines, 8 out of 10 wines served to him were warmer than they should be, and these were places with sommeliers in their payroll and fancy wine cellars and yet…not doing it right.
So here are a few tips to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes:
*Sparkling wines should be served the coldest, in other words between 38-50º F(3-10º Celsius) . The bigger the body of the sparkler the bigger the chance to serve it a bit warmer.
*Whites and Rosés wines should be served between 44-57º F (6-13º Celsius), again the bigger the body of the white (like Chardonnay) the warmer it could be served.
*Light Reds should be served between 53-63º F (11-17º Celsius).
* Big Body Reds should be served between 63-69º F (17-21º Celsius).
Now what about wine storage? I don’t recommend you keep either whites or reds in the refrigerator (it’s too cold in there, with temperatures between 35-37º F (2-3º Celsius). If you are serious about wine and have the $$$, invest on a wine cellar, some of them are not that expensive (usually less than $200) and compact and this way you will know that your wines are always kept in the right temperature and humidity. Always store reds on top and whites at the bottom (where is cooler).
But what happens if you don’t have a wine cellar? well, try to find a cool spot in your house (ideally with temperatures between 55-60ºF (12-16º Celsius), far away from vibration and light, that can seriously affect your wine. A lot of people I know, keep their wines in their basements or if you live in an apartment, inside a closet. Always store your wines on their side, the idea is for the liquid to be in contact with the cork at all times, this keeps the corks moist, otherwise corks may dry up and shrink and then we will be allowing too much oxygen inside the bottle, this will cause the wine to turn into fancy vinegar. The only exception to this rule are sparkling wines, you can keep those standing up, why? Because the bubbles inside will make sure that the cork is moist as it should be.
If you buy wine to keep and plan to drink it a few years from now, invest in a wine cellar. If you usually drink everything right away, a closet will be just fine, but please don’t put your wines underneath the kitchen sink, it’s just too warm in there.
Before I go to my wine recommendations for Easter and Passover (Spring holidays), a note about cooking with wine. When you cook please don’t use the cheapest wine available. You should at least use a wine that costs $10-$20. I normally don’t cook with expensive wines either, I prefer to cook with white wine or Fino sherry (with fish is really incredible) and I keep a bottle around for this purpose.
Regarding the order one should drink wines, if you plan to do a tasting or a fancy five course meal, this should be the ideal order: sparkling first, then light whites, then big body whites, the light reds, then big body reds, then sweet dessert styles. Always drink young first and older vintages last. Remember for big reds, decant them 30 minutes to an hour before drinking them. This will allow the aromas to pop up, when in contact with oxygen. When tasting wines, I always keep them hanging for a while in the glass just to see if more aromas appear with longer contact with oxygen, you will be surprised how they open up and reveal layers of aromas.
Delicate reds should not be decanted, ever. No decanting Pinot Noir please! Because you will lose the delicate aromas of this variety.
Wines for Easter:
Most people eat either Ham or Lamb.
For Ham, you should do a light red like a Barbera,Pinot Noir, Tempranillo or Sangiovese. My recommendations: Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 2016 $30, Cune Viña Real Crianza 2015 $15. Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2014 $25. Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir (Oregon) 2016 $40.
For Lamb, something big like Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon or blends.
My recommendations: Clos Marsalette Pessac Léognan 2015 $25 (Bordeaux Blend), Delas Crozes Hermitage Les Launes 2016, $22, Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Villages 2016 $17. Domaine Le Colombier Vacqueyras Tradition 2016 $20.
Wines for Passover:
Most people eat either Brisket, Lamb or Turkey.
For Brisket or Lamb: Flam Noble 2012 $95, Baron Herzog Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $35, Alfasi Carménère 2017 $12.
For Turkey: Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc $9, Bartenura Prosecco NV $18, Yatir Viognier 2015 $35