58. chilled reds

our fabulous food + wine contributor, kimberly scott, is back. this month, she's sharing a refrshing summer spin on serving red wine:

reds chill out: finding refreshment and flavor through serving red wines cool:

the first revelation i had with serving red wine quite cold was on my honeymoon in provence. it was the peak of summer, and the heat and humidity were a constant presence from the moment the sun crept over the horizon until it tucked itself away late in the evening. dining outdoors at tiny establishments in town squares and hidden gravel courtyards, shaded by massive sycamore trees, became a beloved pastime.

one of our first nights in the town of villeneuve-les-avignon, we dined in one such courtyard and ordered a bottle of cotes du rhone. these juicy blends from the nearby rhone valley had delighted my husband and me many times before. as the waiter poured a tasted for my approval i noticed the condensation on the dark glass of the bottle only a moment before i took my first sip. the cold liquid was a welcome surprise and i accepted the bottle. "ben, it's cold!" i declared with delight. we reveled in the new personality the wine now embodied. the expected dark, earthy, spicy notes had been replaced by brighter tones that stretched into the floral and herbal; bunches of violets wreathed in sage and oregano. we bought a second bottle.

the temperature of wine is selected to help express itself for your enjoyment. depending on that temperature, different aspects will be hidden or highlighted. sommeliers spend a lot of time experimenting with the ideal serving temperature. you may have heard someone talk about how whites wines are often served "too cold". this can be very true: many people still hold to the idea that white wines are supposed to be quite cold and reds should be room temperature. such traditions may yield time-tested results but can also be applied too broadly. don't worry too much about "the rules". how we drink and eat is often a reflection of past experiences unless we are invited to enjoy a new one. wine is diverse, and how we serve it can be too.

table red is the perfect subject with which to experiment. and in case i'm not being clear: the cheap stuff. cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad either. wine is for drinking, and so the next time you pick up a bottle of your favorite value red this summer, throw it in the door of your fridge. i'll provide you a few examples here to get you started on the path to red refreshment.

domaine de la pepiere "la papie" vin de pays du val de loire

this wine has an advantage before the first: the label features a drunken chicken. drinking a blend of cot - also called malbec - and cabernet franc from the loire, i expected funk but got none. blackberry lemon sorbet, tangy and dark, cheery yet with dark undertones, like a good short story by david sedaris.

domaine rimbert "cousin oscar" vin de france

this expression of cinsault from the languedoc in southwestern france is named for a gentleman who is apparently irresistible to lady folk. i can't speak to that claim, but i found it to be true of the wine, which definitely leaves you wishing your glass was not empty. cranberries and currents join hand in hand and dance cheerily against the lofty backdrop of an evergreen forest.

la clarine "jambalaia rouge" sierra foothills red wine

something wild this way comes from the sierra foothills in california, where the vines are grown in such a way as to absorb the rugged expanse of their home. a self-described experimental blend of mourvedre, marasanne, grenache, and viogner, here is an unapologetic march of shockingly purple things decorated with sprays of white blossoms. a bowl of ice-cold plums adjacent to a vase spilling over with lily of the valley.

the wine bottega in boston's north end currently has these gems for your procurement. get them while they're hot! i mean, er, cold.


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