Whites for Chillin’: Beat the heat with some invigorating wines.

It’s too damn hot to drink anything warm. Give me cold water, iced cappuccino and, most definitely, chilly white wine. I crave the sensation of a cool, sweaty bottle rolling across my beaded brow, and the taste of refreshing fruit-infused acidity in my mouth. It quenches … it invigorates … it just feels good.

Think about the food you hunger for during the heated months – fresh vegetables in a salad, chilled seafood, cold roasted chicken – all dishes that complement white wines. Acidity in the wine is key. It highlights the fresh ingredients in a dish and matches the sharpness in foods like tomato and citrus. Acidity delivers the zing, the tartness and the impression of crispness on the palate. If that’s what you seek, the highest acidity comes in sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio (gris) and pinot blanc. If you want the opposite – a softer, fuller-bodied wine with less acidity – then chardonnay, viognier and riesling might scratch your itch.

Be careful how cold you serve white wines. I’ve tried the same wine at two different temperatures, hating it once and loving it the other, simply because the character evolved as it warmed up. Lower temperatures mask flavors; higher temperatures accentuate flavors, good or bad. It’s like drinking a fantastic, ice-cold beer that suddenly becomes disgusting when it warms up.

If a white wine doesn’t have much aroma or flavor after you’ve poured it into a glass, it’s probably in need of some warming. Let it rest for 15 minutes, or for faster results (about five minutes), cup the sides of the glass in two hands and use your body heat.

If you want to go by the book, the best serving temperature for most white wines is between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit, but some higher-end chardonnays (those not afraid of being “exposed” at higher temperatures) are better between 58-62 degrees.


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