How to store & serve your Aussie wines this Summer
You’ve done the legwork, you’ve found that great bottle of wine and now it’s showtime - how to get that great drop served, enjoyed and (if needed) stored correctly to enjoy it the next day.
All drinks have an ideal serving temperature, and wines are no different. The backbone of a rose and white wine is the acidity. Without striking acidity, the wine becomes flabby and unbalanced. Acidity is best maintained at cool temperatures. As a rose or white gets warmer, it gets less appealing (we’ve all experienced this!). Of course, if a wine is too cold there are other problems, the aromas become very muted, leading to a dull glass of wine. Also the wine can become bitter and the alcohol more apparent.
Warm wines can have a purpose for tasting purposes - in terms of quality there’s nothing to hide behind for a poor quality white when not cool enough, so great small batch whites will always show nicely, even if a little cooler would make them more refreshing. In the world of professional tasting panels a table of room temperature rose and whites that don’t have time to perfectly chill means they can see that wine in all its glory, but for the everyday drinker let’s keep it chilled because we want a refreshing wine.
Sauvignon Blanc, Sticks. Yarra Valley.
For white and rose wines somewhere around a ‘chilled’ 6-10 degrees celsius is the key - not too cold to mute the flavours, chilled enough to keep the acidity nice and refreshing. Let’s take the Sticks Sauvignon Blanc for example, a zesty light white with flavours of apple and guava. This wine spent some time ageing on lees (expired yeast cells) which gives texture and complexity. To serve this wine too warm or too cold, you’ll miss out on the full spectrum of flavour. Keeping this wine chilled will give a refreshing zestyness - surrounded by tropical fruits and a beautiful old-world style silky texture.
Red wines can be a little bit more of a delicate dance for summer drinking. Too warm and the flavours feel cooked and jammy; too cold and the tannins become overly astringent. A lighter red, like a Pinot Noir, can be lightly chilled around 12 degrees, whilst a more tannic bold red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz) should be around 15-18 degrees. I know, they’re small temperature changes but when you’re working with high performance wines it helps to pay attention. It may take a little bit of juggling between the fridge and the outdoor table...but it’s worth it!
The best way to ensure a wine stays fresh is, well, to finish the bottle. Super easy! Need I say more? But if for some reason you find there’s still more wine in the bottle and you can’t bring yourself to knock it off there are some ways to stretch the life of the drink.
Oxygen attacks the alcohol in wine producing ethyl acetate, a.k.a vinegar. If you see ‘Volatile Acidity’ as a described wine fault, it all comes from oxygen attacking the wine and losing the fruitiness, bright colours and all-round purpose of the wine. This reaction can be slowed by keeping the bottle closed with a cork or screw-cap, and also by keeping the wine cool. The chemical reactions with oxygen occur more slowly at low temperatures, so even a full-bodied red wine will last a bit longer if kept in the fridge. How long? More than a few days will begin to lose those fruit aromas in the wine, so if you crack open a bottle on a Wednesday try to get through it by the end of the weekend.
A half empty bottle of red wine lasts longer than a white, because the colour and tannin work as antioxidants. It’s the same reason why having a glass or two of red a day can be beneficial for your health. White wines don’t enjoy these antioxidants, so throughout their entire viticultural life - from harvest to glass - oxygen is closely monitored. It’s all about keeping that bottle sealed and chilled.
If you’re in the habit of drinking half bottles of wine, or a selection of different wines each night, it’s a great idea to invest in a vacuum pump or gas-blanket system like a Coravin. The idea is that the vacuum system takes most of the oxygen out of the bottle, and the blanketing system forms a barrier between oxygen and the wine with another gas like argon. Handy pieces of kit, and very common in wine bars with big selections by the glass.
Keep your red cool and your whites cooler - and if you have a couple of glasses left in the bottle get that cork back in, throw it in the fridge and remember to drink it!