Friday, August 30, 2013

Chill with the last rose of summer

E. Guigal 2012
Côtes du Rhône Rosé
It's the dog days of summer here. August is about to segue into September, but a hot and humid summer that was slow in coming now seems loath to give up its grip. This is the kind of weather when I am quite willing to pop a red wine in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes before dinner to approximate "cellar temperature," a point at which it seems more refreshing than it would at summer "room temperature" in the Northern Hemisphere, even when indoor air-conditioning is in play.

I'm a little reluctant to take the next step, though, the desperate measure of dropping an ice cube into my glass.

Several years ago, in a column titled Wine on ice, I actually questioned this conventional wisdom by testing a couple of simple, robust table wines (a cheap Spanish red and a cheaper Hungarian red) on a searing July evening. The results? In a word, "Meh." 

Cooling those simple wines seemed to diminish their perhaps limited flavor, throwing the fluid into an unpleasant flavor mix of tart acidity and astringent tannins.

Mark that down as a bad idea, I thought. Until last night. ...