Cool Cabernet and Shivering Sauvignon Blanc

Truth be told, can your Sauvignon Blanc be too cold? Although that sounds highly unlikely at this time of year in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to remember the influence serving temperatures can have on the enjoyment of wine.

The serving temperature of wine is critically important to our enjoyment of it and also to ensure that we get to appreciate all the beautiful flavours and aromas the different styles and varieties offer.

White wines and bubblies are easy enough – store them in the fridge and they should be at the right temperature. White wine is ideally enjoyed between 7 and 12°C. If it is a very hot day, make sure to keep the opened bottle in an ice-bucket, or back in the fridge between servings.

Sparkling wine can definitely be popped into the freezer 15 minutes before serving, as it tastes more refreshing at a slightly lower temperature than white wine (just don’t forget it in there … it might explode!). Enjoy your bubbly very cold, 3 to 7 °C.

During hot South African summers, remember that wine warms up quickly in the glass, so rather pour smaller servings and top up from the ice-bucket more often.

Red wine is arguably the wine most often served at the wrong temperature. Are you serving red wine at “room temperature”? This was the rule in the days when wines were kept in the cool cellars of European houses and the room temperature reference actually developed as a way of warming the wines by letting them stand for an hour or two prior to drinking. Light and medium-bodied red wines should be served at between 12 and 15°C and bold reds between 15 and 20 °C.

During a Cape winelands summer when temperatures easily reaches the late 30's or early 40's, room temperature rules can't apply. In this case it is acceptable and sometimes required to chill the bottle of red for an hour in the fridge prior to serving, or even to give it 20 minutes in an ice-bucket. Again, pouring a smaller amount at a time ensures that the wine doesn’t warm up in the glass too quickly.

One last tip: When preparing an ice bucket, particularly to chill a bottle of wine quickly, always use 50% water and 50% ice. This way, more of the bottle is in contact with a cold surface area and it will chill more quickly.

And, as for adding ice to the glass of wine, that is not recommended. The melting ice dilutes the wine and all the effort of the wine-making team to give you a well-balanced and complex glassful is void!

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