What makes wine so awesome is how alive it is both in the bottle and the glass. It’s always evolving, and when you finally pop the cork, allowing the oxygen to race in, it starts to open up and deliver many of the flavors and aromas – think pineapple, lemon peel, apricot and pear – we love about it.
But when a wine is really cold – we’re talking artic temperatures – all those awesome flavors and aromas shut down. The super cold temperature prevents the wine from giving off the smell of grass or refreshing taste of bright lemon. Instead you just have a cold liquid that may quench your thirst, but it doesn’t provide much other pleasure.
It’s great to have a super cold wine when you know the wine isn’t very good – since ice-cold wine is great at masking the wine’s shortcomings – think about how cold the wine was at the last open bar or gallery opening you may have gone too – but when the wine is something you want to enjoy, don’t leave it soaking in an ice bath the entire time.
If you’re at a good restaurant or wine bar, you can trust that they’ll serve your white wine at the proper temperature, and once opened they’ll move it back and forth between the ice bucket and the table to ensure it stays that way. But if you’re on your own at the park or beach, and you have a cooler packed full of great bottles, and filled to the brim with ice, pull those bottles out of the ice bath and let them sit for about fifteen minutes in the sunshine before opening them. That should give the wine enough time to warm up so that it can deliver all of those flavors and aromas you crave. Then, if you feel the bottle is getting a bit too warm, just dunk it back in the ice to cool down. The wine will still be cool and refreshing, but not so cold that you don’t also get to enjoy all of its great flavors.