On warm days or evenings (yes, they are returning at last here in the eastern part of the country), who doesn’t enjoy nursing an ice-cold glass of white wine on the patio or deck? While the experience is refreshing, you may be getting only part of the enjoyment of the wine. Did you know that really cold wine obscures the aromas and tastes, not only of whites but of rosés?
I was reminded of this cardinal rule of experiencing chilled wines — don’t drink them too cold — when I opened Stefano Massone’s Gavi “Masera” 2016 the other night. This $14 bottle is a delicious example of inexpensive Gavi, the wine named for the heart of the area in Italy’s Piedmont where it is made from the indigenous Cortese grape.
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It was light and crisp, as Gavi typically is. But with my refrigerator set at 38 degrees, I knew the wine wouldn’t begin to show its subtlety with that kind of chill. And so I poured myself a small starter glass, left the bottle on the kitchen counter, and waited for it to warm up. The results were dramatic.
What began cold, enclosed, and unimpressive gradually opened up as the bottle warmed to reveal a delightful and expressive wine with aromas of stone fruit, white flowers, and herbs, followed by white peach and mandarin on the palate. Aged without oak, and with alcohol listed at a modest 12.5 percent, this is a wine for spring and summer that will complement all kinds of lighter foods and will charm your guests as an aperitif.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that you serve this or any other white wine warm. Ideally, you should aim for somewhere between refrigerator temperature and room temperature. You’ll know you’ve hit the right spot when you taste it — with a sense that the wine has come out of cold storage and is alive.
And in a restaurant, if your server arrives with an ice bucket to make your (probably) too-cold wine even colder, politely decline and ask that your bottle of white or rosé be kept on your table. Your nose and your taste buds will thank you for showing them a little warmth.