Should chianti wine be served chilled?
Generally, red wines do not benefit from chilling, which may suppress their aromatic expression and accentuate tannins, making some reds unpleasantly astringent. On the other hand, reds are often served far too warm in homes or restaurants, which exaggerates the heat of alcohol, more generally, all the volatile elements. It is perfectly acceptable - indeed, a smart strategy - to put a warm bottle of red wine into the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or to ask the sommelier to put the bottle into an ice bucket for 5 minutes or so (although I would not want to do this with a fragile old vintage). There are certainly many basic examples of Chianti which are low in tannin and emphasize youthful fruit qualities, and this style could take a slight chill - keeping in mind as well that the wine will warm quickly in the glass. Very few if any non-sparkling wines of any color will be enhanced if they are ice cold. It is acceptable to chill sparkling wine a bit more since a lower temperature acts to slow release of the bubbles. In the case of sweet wines, chilling lessens the impression of sweetness. Going further, finer and more complex white wines are likely to show at their best if served cool, not extremely cold; in that way, they are really not appreciably different than red wines.
About The Expert
Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with a leading European company. Previously, he served as senior executive of importers Frederick Wildman & Sons. In recent years, Roger has judged wine competitions in Argentina, Turkey and China. Roger became one of America's first Masters of Wine in 1993.
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