Yes, It’s Okay to Chill Down Your Red Wine


I have an admission to make.

Until now, I have been a closet smashable red wine drinker.

No, this does not mean I smash my wine bottles against the garage wall next to the recycling bin after syphoning the last drop of vino.

Nor does it mean that I smash my wine glass against a designated kitchen wall to create, over time, some sort of abstract art mural.

What it means is I did not realize that a long-running wine-drinking habit of mine not only has been “mainstreamed,” but has a name.

My habit? Drinking certain red wines only after chilling them down. It turns out these wines have a shared name: “smashable.”

These are red wines that generally are a little lighter in hue and often lower in alcohol content. Similar to rosés, they’re ideal for leisurely sipping, but also can be an enjoyable part of a good meal.

Why had I been a closet smashable wine drinker for all these years? Because the “rules” have always said that while white and rosé-style wines are best savored with a bit of a chill, red wines should be served at room temperature.

I followed that rule religiously during the early years of my wine journey because, well, my folks always taught me to do what I was told. Only years later did I discover the flaw in this particular law.

When it was written, “room temperature” referred to around 60-65 degrees, which was the typical room temperature in Europe. With the dawning of the widespread use of air conditioning, that average temperature range has risen to 68-72 degrees… and often higher.

As a result, many now believe that we’re drinking our red wines at temperatures that are much higher than ideal for total enjoyment — temps that may even throw their balance out of whack.

So the next time you pour a glass of red wine and it seems a bit “sharp” or astringent, chill it down in the refrigerator for about a half-hour and give it another try. This works especially well with lighter reds, such as Shiraz from Australia and some bottlings of Grenache.

You also can do what I do on occasion, especially when dinner is ready and the bottle of wine has just been opened: Add an ice cube to the glass.

When it comes to drinking — and, more importantly, enjoying — smashable red wines, none of the old rules apply.

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Posted in Editor's Journal, Wine in the Glass
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