Refrigerate Red Wine Safe?

March 14, 2008

Can you refrigerate red wine? - Gary in Omaha, NB

Yes you can Gary and it’s even best to refrigerate red wine before you begin drinking it. To really enjoy your bottle, most red wines should be at served close to room temperature 55 to 65ºF which translates to about 30 minutes in the fridge. The caveat is that the red wines that are high in tannins and full bodied reds need warmer temperatures that help to soften these tannins and develop the flavor and aromas.

But again, lighter bodied reds are enjoyed better at slightly lower temperatures. You see, the slightly colder temperature slows the evaporation of alcohol, improving the it overall and making the wine smoother. Don’t over chill red wine as this will make the tannins in the wine taste rough and bitter.

The quickest way to chill red wine is in an ice bath. Now if you aren’t quite up to the task of being a complete lush one night and just can’t finish that opened red wine. It’s perfectly fine to refrigerate red wine after opening for a couple of days and this will give you a bit more time to drink it.

The worst thing a fledgling wino such as yourself could do is waste a bottle of wine. So keep that in mind and do not disappoint the Wine Virgin with such sacrilege!! I just might have to get the whip.

Wine Crystals

March 11, 2008

Last night I opened up a bottle of white wine and noticed what looked like wine crystals down at the bottom of the bottle. Are these harmless and what causes them to form? - Ada in Norwich, CT

You really shouldn’t worry about wine crystals and actually crystals in wine can denote the level of quality. I’ll explain. These are more common in red wine where they take on the color of the wine and are regarded as part of the sediment. In white wine they remain clear and some people worry that they may be glass.

Sediments occur in bottled wine and the wine crystals you saw are a type of sediment. The wine crystals are potassium tartrate and this is found naturally in wine. It will precipitate and form these crystals under certain conditions especially at prolonged storage under cold temperatures. The processing required to guarantee that these crystals will never form is generally considered to diminish the quality of wine.

When you buy some bottles, they may already have crystals that have formed. Others may develop crystals while being stored in cold weather or simply refrigerated for a few days. Wine crystals come in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes they resemble tiny grape nuts or small pieces of ruby glass and will completely dissolve in warm or hot water. But again these wine crystals are completely harmless.

Don’t have a fit the next time you see these crystals and do not try to shake the bottle up in the hopes that it will dissolve them. Gently pour the wine into a glass and have a care free moment of bliss knowing that the crystals will harm you not.