Don't be afraid to chill your red wines

Caves des Papes 2011 Ogier Héritages Côtes du Rhône. (Supplied)

Caves des Papes 2011 Ogier Héritages Côtes du Rhône. (Supplied)

Christopher Waters, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

As someone who loves robust red wine and celebrates a birthday that usually falls in midst of a July heat wave, I’ve learned to make concessions. I’ve also learned on these hot summer nights to keep an ice bucket at the ready to make whatever wine is on the go more enjoyable.

Half filled with ice cubes and cold water to help chill your wine faster, that bucket is the perfect vessel to keep your wine tasting as it should, even if you’re drinking rich, ripe California Cabernet.

Sadly, chilling or refrigerating red wine is often viewed a classic blunder. By some it’s downright sacrilegious. Doesn’t everyone know that you are supposed to serve red wine at room temperature?

That was certainly the way back in the day. But the wine-soaked experts of old would have been talking about room temperatures before central heating and air conditioning. Suffice to say, we live in a different world.

The upshot is Canadians tend to serve our red wines too warm and our whites too cold. Of course, as in all things related to wine appreciation, it’s a matter of taste.

When you chill wine, you’re dialing down how tart, sweet and aromatic it seems. For many white wines, those are the very attributes that we most enjoy.

Chilling red wines, especially bold and structured reds made from Cabernet or Malbec, can make the tannins more pronounced. But some find that astringency adds refreshment to their taste buds on a hot day.

You might be acclimatized to drinking your white wines icy cold out of habit. Likewise, you might not have considered the effect of temperature on that bottle of red wine that’s sweating it out alongside you on the patio.

But you might find a better way, as I did years ago when I visited Bordeaux during a scorching hot week in July.

Locals at bistros and brasseries weren’t denying themselves the region’s celebrated vin rouge like I was. They enjoyed lightly chilled carafes or bottles as wait staff brought out ice buckets as a matter of course.

Fifteen minutes in an ice bucket is usually enough of a bath to cool your red wine down to a more pleasing and refreshing temperature. Taste and see for yourself what you think. After all, what’s cooler than being cool?

Wines of the Week:

***1/2 Bodegas Martin Codax 2011 Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain

AB $18 | MB $18.60 (013363) | ON $17.95 (984906)

As the largest producer in Rias Baixas, Martin Codax is virtually synonymous with the Albariño grape. A light, refreshing white with a heavenly floral and fruity fragrance, this might be your new favourite wine.

**** Caves des Papes 2011 Ogier Héritages Côtes du Rhône, Rhône Valley, France

BC $17.99 | AB $15 (535849)| MB $14.79 (535849) | ON $14.95 (535849)

A great value red from France, this effective blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is juicy and fruity, with good concentration and grip. Chilled down, it offers the fruity intensity of a good rosé with more stuffing.


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