Welcome to Ask a Somm, a column in which experts from across the country answer questions about wine. Today’s installment: Should I refrigerate my wine after I’ve opened it?
At newbie Pleasantry in Cincinnati, Ohio, owner and sommelier Daniel Souder sources natural, less manipulated wines to serve at his seasonal, rustic American eatery. Below Souder dives into wine and temperature, offering advice on when to chill that bottle:
“The question of ‘should I refrigerate my wine?’ yields a two-part question in response: Was the wine refrigerated before you opened it? Do you want the wine to be chilled when you next drink it?
If the answer to either is yes, then go for the refrigerator! And this takes me to, I think, a more important question: What wines should be refrigerated (chilled) for drinking? White, rosé, and sparkling always get the cool treatment, but many red and orange wines should be getting their chill on prior to serving, as well. We’ll get to this in a bit.
Why do we chill a wine? Dropping the temperature of a wine elevates its flavor nuances. Acidity becomes laser-like. Fruit is brighter. Tannins become more palatable. The wine becomes a better companion to food. But be careful: chill wine too much (below 48 degrees), and all those nuances become dulled! Too often people drink white wine too cold or red wine too warm.
Back to the wines that should be chilled, but usually are not: At Pleasantry, we pour all natural and minimal-intervention wines. They are fresh and ready for consumption now. Many of the reds are lighter in style, more food-friendly with little to no oak treatment and lower alcohol. These wines are begging to be chilled. Many California producers are making wine in this more approachable and subtle manner, wines that I love. One such example is the 2015 Amplify Carignane. Made by a husband-and-wife team, this wine sings with a chill. The wine is a nearly transparent red, and tastes of fresh currant juice. Adding that extra layer of a slight chill makes this wine crushable, the definition of what the French deem glou glou. Take it to a late summer barbecue; your friends will praise you.
From the Old World, gamay from France’s Beaujolais region and ploussard and trousseau from the Jura are grapes that also love a chill. The 2014 Overnoy-Crinquand Arbois-Pupillin Ploussard is one of these I’ve been crushing on this summer. A definite OG team in the wine game, these families have been doing it the right way for years. So much tart cranberry juice, with just a hint of tannic backbone, you will be in your happy place when you inevitably finish this bottle in one sitting.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include orange wines here. White wines that see extended time on their skins are an eye-opening experience: a pale orange color with all the bright fruit and acidity of a white, plus the texture and mouthfeel of a red. These wines are the definition of food-friendly. Having the first orange wine section on a list in our region, I am jazzed to see people coming in specifically for these wines. The 2014 Donkey & Goat Skin Ferment Roussanne is my favorite on our current list. This wine is made from roussane grapes that spent 12 days on their skins during fermentation; I could drink this with any dish on our menu. Our chef kills it with hyper-seasonal produce and subtle nuances, and this wine is on point with anything from the radish tartine to the red drum and coulotte steak. Expect this wine to bring bitter orange and bright acidity, plus slightly oxidative notes and modest tannins. This wine served just under cellar temp (we keep it steady at 58 degrees, then I tell guests to let the bottle sit on the table and it will be just perfect) is my go-to for opening a guest’s eyes when they want to experience what we’re all about!
So do yourself a favor and try something new: Throw some chill on a red, drink an orange, and stop taking that white wine below 48 degrees.”