Serving wine at right temperature ... without a microwave

  • Serving wine at the correct temperature can be tough for those without a temperature-controlled cellar or wine fridge

    Serving wine at the correct temperature can be tough for those without a temperature-controlled cellar or wine fridge

We are not benefiting from the full beauty of our wines if we are not serving them in an accepted temperature range and, as our weather starts to warm, we should be ever mindful of this.

Too chilled and a red can taste hard and tannic; too warm, they can be dull and flat as alcohol is overemphasised. But first, let me share a story that took place many, many years ago. It still makes me chuckle.

It was early days for me in the wine trade and I was working for J.E. Lightbourn. We had recently introduced Gallo wines to our island along with the rather unthinkable idea that Americans (north or south) could make wine and, almost more astounding, the thought that customers might just buy wine by the glass or carafe if offered in our restaurants.

A popular Mexican eatery situated above John Smith’s Bay made the early decision to feature our Gallo Hearty Burgundy in this new format.

One evening, my wife and I asked for a litre carafe of the mentioned red and the proprietor placed it on our table in an obviously chilled condition. Spotting our quizzical stare, he explained that his customers preferred their reds kept in the refrigerator, but he would be happy to take it away and bring us some at “room temperature”.

Within minutes he was back with the wine and after we thanked him, he walked away commenting, “Thank heavens for microwave ovens.”

I would venture the guess that many Bermuda homes have a far greater yearly temperature variation than those in other countries that control theirs as a matter of survival. Also consider that the term “room temperature” originated in Europe in the 1920s and meant 55F to 60F. It is best not to consider this term at all here.

A perfect candidate for 30-plus minutes in the fridge is our Drouhin Beaujolais Villages 2016, as the gamay grape offers great charm with its lovely raspberry colour and brilliant hue. The refined nose of violet, peony and red fruit syrup, combined with feelings of silky freshness make it an ideal wine to start the season with when served at 55F. $20.55.

Spring and summer are good times for reds such as our Crusher 2018 Pinot Noir from Clarksburg in California. $23.35. It rates 91/100 in Wine Enthusiast magazine and this description: “Fully ripe and rich, this mouth-filling wine oozes black plum and clove aromas, vibrant black-cherry and coriander flavours and is bolstered by firm tannins and a full body. It’s big, bold and complex at the same time.”

I will assume that most folks do not have a temperature-controlled cellar and recommend, for any pinot noir, 30 minutes in the fridge for a serving temperature of about 60F.

I am so happy that Maja and Roberto Guldener are back making their wonderful wines in Tuscany. I knew that they would take the best advantage of a classic vintage like 2015 and here is what Robert Parker has to say: “Terrabianca’s 2015 Campaccio is a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. This vintage puts the identifying qualities of all varieties on immediate display. It is one of the nicest things to admire in this Tuscan red blend. You get the powerful aromas of black cherry and chocolate that are associated with cabernet sauvignon, with some notes that are green or medicinal. At the same time, you can taste that zesty and acidic freshness of the sangiovese. Merlot adds rich softness. These grapes complement each other very well in the 2015 vintage that provided ample heat for easy and balanced ripeness. 92/100.”

A range of 60F to 65F would be ideal for Campaccio and, with summer in mind, I can tell you that the Guldeners consider their Super Tuscan ideal with many seafoods. $32.95.

Now, let us step up to a wine that will shine at 70F but, first, to find its origin, we must step back to France in the 1880s.

It would appear that a Peloursin vine may have been planted rather close to Syrah and the resulting cross-pollination resulted in a baby that they named Durif, now often called petite sirah in the New World.

Orin Swift 2015 Machete is a blend of petite sirah, syrah and grenache that has a brooding hue and viscous consistency, powerful aromas of crème de cassis, boysenberry and ripe cherries that are complemented by a soft minerality and hints of dark chocolate. The entry is smooth with dark plums and a charred meatiness that floods to create a velvety texture that lingers.

Here is Parker’s take on this delicious Californian wine: “Deep garnet-purple coloured, the 2015 Proprietary Red Machete opens with scents of black forest cake, cassis and menthol with a medicinal undercurrent and a waft of chargrill. Medium to full-bodied, firm and chewy, it has a compelling earthy/savoury character and a long spicy finish 93/100.” $67.30.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

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Published Apr 12, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 12, 2019 at 8:02 am)

Serving wine at right temperature ... without a microwave

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