Archive for the ‘Temperature’ Category

In his Wine Temperatures blog series, L’Ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbet has explained the importance of getting the temperature of your wine just right.  But here he shares a few hand hints and tips on what to do if time is short…


chilling wine with iceCold:

  • 45 minutes in the freezer is the equivalent of 2 – 3 hours in the fridge – popping your bottle in the freezer for a short time can help you to reduce the wine’s temperature.  But don’t leave it for more than 45 minutes as it will start to freeze which will ruin your wine.
  • Soak your bottle in cold water – at this time of year if you run cold water from the tap it will be just above freezing, so leave your unopened bottle under the running water.
  • Don’t just fill a bucket with ice – The sides of the bottle will not be completely covered as there will be space between the cubes, always add water to you ice bucket to fill those gaps and ensure temperature transfer and 100% contact with the bottle – Use mainly water and just a little bit of ice.



hand hot water

  • Use hand-hot water – A very cold bottle can be warmed by placing in a container of hand-hot water for 15 – 30 minutes.  Don’t place in water that is too warm as the outside will warm faster than the inside of the bottle.
  • Keep it on the cool side – It is better that the wine is still a little cool before service as wine will further warm once poured.

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In an earlier blog we noted that white wines are ideal usually just slightly cooler than reds, but still around around 10 – 12 degrees.

In his next blog L’Ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbet offers some guidance as to how to arrive at the perfect temperature for your bottle:

Guidelines as to how to arrive at the correct temperature

  • Remove bottle from heated locations – At this chilly time of year the best thing to do is to place your bottle upright in an unheated, but insulated area like a porch, a well insulated garage whilst you prepare your meal, avoiding areas where the average temperature is outside of 10 – 15 degrees.
  • Move in the wine before your guests – Move a red wine to the room that it will be served in half an hour before the meal – away from radiators and direct sunlight – so that it can acclimatise before serving.  Do not allow the wine to reach room temperature.
  • Put wine in the fridge at least one meal time before – A bottle of white wine would normally only take a couple of hours to chill, but in your household fridge, the temperature won’t be stable because people open and close the door!  So if you’re having wine for lunch, put it in the fridge at breakfast time.
  • Do not store your wine in a fridge – It’s not recommended to keep wine long-term in a very cold fridge, especially if it is bottled with a cork, as you run the risk of the seal drying out and your wine getting oxidised.
  • Do not put ice in your wine – Although this will cool your wine down it will dilute and taint all the flavours.  Unless you want to make a soft-drink out of your wine it is an absolute no-no.
  • Use mainly water and a little bit of ice – Don’t just fill a bucket with ice, to maintain the temperature of a bottle as you dine place it in a container filled with water, with a little bit of ice.  This will keep the temperature of the whole bottle constant.  Consider using this for red as well as white wine, particularly if you have a warmer room.
  • Don’t fill your glasses – Most modern wine glasses are big enough to hold between a quarter and two-thirds of a bottle, so half-fill them.  That means the wine isn’t warming up in your glass waiting to be drunk.
  • Keep it in the bottle – Keeping the temperature of wine stable is always easier in the bottle as it is designed to be a good insulator.  There are also great bottle insulators on the market that are great to keep the temperature of both white and red wine stable.
  • Use your windowsill for a Dinner Party – A windowsill is actually the ideal location to keep a red wine during a meal (providing there is no sun, and no radiator) because of the cool air around the window which can actually have a stabilizing effect on the wine.

    Household appliances should never be used to heat/cool wine.

  • Keep household appliances away – Never use microwaves, ovens, dishwashers or very hot water to warm wine.  I’ve seen some restaurants warm wine in a dishwasher, particularly if they don’t have suitable wine storage…  But you can cook a salmon in a dishwasher, so just think of the havoc it plays to the delicate flavours in wine! Avoid.

In Stephen’s next blog he’ll explain how to get your wine to the ideal temperature even if time is short.

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L’Ortolan sommelier Stephen Nisbet takes a moment to explain just how temperature affects your enjoyment of wine:

“There is a bit of a an unspoken rule that white wine is best served cold, where as red wine is best served warmer. Whilst this is to some extent true, the ideal temperature is remarkably similar for both white and red fine wines. Because of the way we often go about preparing wine for drinking it is easy to get it wrong and you can risk your enjoyment of your bottle, but it is straightforward :

Getting the Temperature Right – Colder

Temperature is the only main way of a affecting the way that you receive and enjoy wine.  Although you are not dramatically altering the wine’s character, it does have quite a big affect on your perception of it.

When the wine is too cold, you risk your enjoyment of it in the following ways:

  • Suppression of aroma – if a wine is too cold some aspects of the wine may not release the aromas it is supposed to, meaning that it is not able to express itself fully.
  • Creating a numb palette – Your palette is sensitive; a wine that is too cold causes it to be numbed so you won’t be able to fully appreciate all the different flavours in it.

So with a wine that is too cold you risk missing out – both from your numb palette and your enforced restrictions on the wine!

Whenever you consume anything below body temperature, you are shocking your palette.  Any lower than 10 degrees your palette gets ‘surprised’.  Whilst this might not be too noticeable in your glass of cola, with the delicate flavours that interplay in wine it’s a balance to find that point where a wine is enjoyable & refreshing, but is not so much of a shock to the palette.

It is the reciprocal relationship between wine and palette that is important to appreciate when serving wine – if the temperature is too cold both of these aspects can cause the flavours of the wine to seem sluggish which can ruin enjoyment.

Getting the Temperature Right – Warmer

You should always avoid serving wine too warm as this will make certain characteristics will over develop, and the wine will become unbalanced.

Ice is not always the best way to chill wine

Ice is not always the best way to chill wine

If a red wine is served too warm then it tastes flabby as the alcoholic and fruity nature – the lighter sides of the wine – come out too much.  The characters such as acid, and the more savoury elements of the wine that are required for balance, get left behind.

Alcohol in an unfortified wine should be in the background, but if served too warm then it can cause it to come to the foreground – which is often not all that pleasant.  Alcohol is there as a consequence really – to me, it’s not really the point of the wine – it’s a by-product of fermentation.  The quantity of alcohol in wine has little to do with its quality – so it shouldn’t be allowed to come to the fore-front.”

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