WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

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WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:30 pm

Too darn hot

We're midway through July, typically the hottest, muggiest weeks of summer in much of the Northern Hemisphere, and the weather around here, at least, is living up to its seasonal role.

It's too darn hot to do much of anything, maybe even too hot for wine. On second thought, let's not get unrealistic about this. But still, it's hot enough to prompt one of our periodic re-evaluations of the conventional wisdom about wine.

According to the Book of Wine Snobbery Laws, red wine must be served only at room temperature, while white, rosé and sparkling wines may only be properly served cold.

Laws, as I've said before, are made to be broken, and there's no better time to break this one than a torrid summer day when the temperature rises to the middle 90s (that's the middle 30s to those of you in the rest of the world).

Bear in mind that the "room temperature" rule was crafted by wine enthusiasts in Europe before the age of central heat, when it wasn't uncommon for sweaters and scarves to be appropriate wear for dinner. So take my word for this: It's all right to put your bottle of red wine into the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before dinner, just long enough to bring it down to something like "cellar temperature," the natural chill of underground wine cellars and caves.

Realistically, you don't want to serve red wine ice cold. Not <i>good</I> red wine, anyway. An icy chill will rob the wine of the flavor nuances you expect in a red, and will throw its acidity and tannins out of balance. This is why "don't serve reds cold" isn't really bad advice. But ice cold is one thing, and a light, refreshing chill is quite another. Try it yourself if you don't believe me: A half-hour or so before dinner tonight, pour <i>two</i> glasses of red wine. Put on on the table. Chill the other. Then try them side-by-side. I think you'll find the cooler wine more pleasantly refreshing, with no loss of flavor. And if you don't like it, it won't take long for it to warm up again.

Good white wines shouldn't be served too cold, either. But that's another story for another day. Meanwhile, here's today's tasting, a fine Italian sparkler that goes down well with a chill.

<table border="0" align="right" width="190"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/bort0713.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Bortolotti Spumanti Prosecco Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ($16)

I last reported on this fine Prosecco from Cantine Umberto Bortolotti as a bubbly fine enough for New Year's toasting at a fraction the price of Champagne. We return to it in midsummer as a stylish midsummer table wine and hot-weather quaffer. It's a clear, light straw-color wine with a greenish hue and a persistent stream of bubbles. Its aromas are light and fresh, fresh apples and citrus. On the palate it's crisp and dry, gently tart lime and green-apple flavors with a refreshing note of prickly carbonation, trailing off to a clean, dry citric snap in the finish. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio, and other regional importers. (July 13, 2006)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> A natural with fresh summer garden vegetables, it was a delight with an improvised pasta dish of baby artichokes and thin-sliced new potatoes over farfalle pasta with onions and garlic, fresh plum tomatoes, Pecorino Romano and a basil chiffonade.

<B>VALUE:</B> You can find cheaper Prosecco, but this one justifies its mid-teens price with classy elegance at a fraction the price of Champagne. Shop around, as many vendors offer Bortolotti at a lower price than I paid.

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> Freshness is a virtue with Prosecco, particularly with this non-vintage model (although a coded reference on the back label suggests it was shipped as recently as December 2005). Best drunk up fresh, then wait for the next shipment.

<B>PRONUNCIATION:</B>
<B>Prosecco</B> = "<I>Pro-sec-co</I>"
<B>Valdobbiadene</B> = "<I>Vahl-doh-b'ya-day-neh</I>"

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
The Bortolotti Website is published in Italian, German, French and English.

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Find vendors and compare prices for Bortolotti Prosecco on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Frank LaClair » Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:19 pm

Right on the mark Robin !! I have to say with the high alcohol levels in modern wines, serving at room temp makes for a hot wine to become too hot. I like a red served at about 60 degrees for my taste. As for a white, I had an 04 Rodney Strong Reserve Sav. Blanc served rather chilled yesterday. It was a bit too cold at first but as it warmed it went through a wonderful change of character that made both my wife and I smile and decide we could buy this one again. It was a bit softer than I like for pairing with food, but excellent on its own.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Bob Henrick » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:36 pm

I can't fault your judgement Robin! It is too darn hot here in bourbon land. And, if it's too hot for red wine, think how much too hot it is for bourbon neat! At this time of year I often put a bottle of red into the fridge, and if there isn't time to do that I have been known to stick it in the freezer compartment for a short stay. The part that really caught my eye in your post is that potato/pasta dish you concocted. I am not a huge fan of artichoke, but I bet it would work well with baby Brussels sprouts too. BTW, today it's 90. tomorrow probably 95!
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:49 am

Reds for the fridge include Beaujolais Villages and the much-maligned Schiava (the Pretty Good Red Grape of the Alto Adige!)
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Bob Henrick » Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:04 pm

Dave, do you mean thet these two are the only two that should ever go into the fridge? Or, that these two are what you simnply drink from the fridge. I can't think of a red wine that I won't put into the fridge, although there are some that I will leave there longer than others. BTW, I see that you have posted 81 times on the forum and I don't saying Welcome) so please consider it said.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:15 pm

They're the only two that I'd put in the fridge, that's all. Consider it failure of the imagination: I can't imagine drinking a chilled Napa Cab. Maybe it's a pleasurable experience, I don't know.

PS: Thanks, this is a far pleasanter environment than, say, the Mark Squires BBS. :wink:
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:42 pm

This time of year I put all reds in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, makes a big difference.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Frank LaClair » Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:44 pm

Put in the fridge and left too long would be the least favorable way to enjoy a great Napa Cab, but to bring it down to 60 -62 would enhance the overall experience.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Bob Henrick » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:17 pm

Dave, I am afraid that I have not made myself clear on the subject of chilling a red wine. If I have a bottle of anything sitting around on the counter it is probably more like 72 degrees than a true room temperature. I will therefore put it in the fridge to get it down to around 60-62 degrees which I think of as a much more better temperature for reds. For whites I like them a little closer to 50 than to fridge temp which is around 40 degrees. It all just what we like after all.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Dave Erickson » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:51 pm

Actually, I think we're on the same page. When I say "chilled" I don't mean refrigerator cold. I'll drink a cheap vinho verde right out of the fridge, and ice-cold temperature moderates the intense sweetness of Clairette de Die; other than that, I think your temps are quite suitable.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Tony Willett » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:21 am

Robin, your comments re red wine temperature are right on!!! For most of my life I lived in southern Australia (Victoria) and some 11 years ago moved north to the more tropical climate of Queensland. For some time I was not truly aware of why I was not enjoying my red wines as much. Am now aware and like you suggest, a brief spell in the fridge is the answer (not me; the wine!!). I am still trying to convince fellow Queenslanders, every chance I get. Other fellow "refugees" from the colder southern States take less convincing than the the locals.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:44 am

Tony Willett wrote:Robin, your comments re red wine temperature are right on!!! For most of my life I lived in southern Australia (Victoria) and some 11 years ago moved north to the more tropical climate of Queensland. For some time I was not truly aware of why I was not enjoying my red wines as much. Am now aware and like you suggest, a brief spell in the fridge is the answer (not me; the wine!!). I am still trying to convince fellow Queenslanders, every chance I get. Other fellow "refugees" from the colder southern States take less convincing than the the locals.


Tony, thanks for the comments, and a warm welcome to our forum! With the temperatures here in Kentucky in the 90s F (middle 30s for you), this topic is more than merely hypothetical right now.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Tony Willett » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:00 am

Robin, we have daughter living in NY city and visited her Sept last year. Lovely summer weather. However, noted on our local news that a couple of days ago NY had 100 F.
We were fascinated to so much Aussie wine for sale in local outlets. The old adage; "When in Rome ........" was equally true for us then, bung the red in the fridge for a chill.
Clarifying my comments about drinking red wine in the southern states of Aus. When purchasing red wine from a "drive-in" bottle shop, where the wine was sitting on out-door shelves at close to 32 F, it helped if you put the bottle between your legs on the drive home just to thaw it!!! On the negative side, the family jewels tended to retreat somewhat into the body, but a small price to pay for enjoyment of wine.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:24 am

Tony Willett wrote:On the negative side, the family jewels tended to retreat somewhat into the body, but a small price to pay for enjoyment of wine.


I thought I had seen every imaginable variation on wine connoisseurship here over the years, Tony, but I do believe you have introduced us to a new one. :lol:

It's true, though, that you'll find a lot of Australian wine over here ... partly thanks to brands like Yellowtail, I believe the US has passed up Britain as Australia's No. 1 export market. I was surprised to learn, when I traveled in Oz, that quite a few of our most popular Aussie brands over here are made entirely for export and not sold back home.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Martin Malbecq » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:29 pm

Your explanation about room temperature is crystal clear, if I may say so! Nowadays room temperature should probably refer to temperatures in the 59-63 bracket, closer to a cellar temperature (assuming you have such a room in your house) than any living-room temperature which can go as low as 60 when air-conditioned and as high as 90 on a hot summer day with no cooling device.

Wine amateurs seek to store their wine at a constant temperature of around 50-55. Why so? Because it is the perfect temperature both for aging wine and having it almost ready for consumption. Whites will need a little chill and reds will be open (probably decanted) 2 or 3 hours before drinking.

If you cannot afford a cellar room properly fitted for storing wine, or you live in an apartment, I strongly recommend the use of a wine cabinet. It is the most secure way to keep your bottles away from the 5 well-known enemies of wine: light, bad temperature, bad humidity, vibrations and foul air. Manufacturers specialising in wine cabinet provide amateurs with cellars for aging wines, multipurpose cabinets (a 50-55 storage zone plus cooling zones) and conditioning wine cabinets presenting adjustable temperature zones.

The ideal consumption temperature of a wine depends on how much fruit, tannins and alcohol it contains. Then, every wine possesses its own service temperature. Fruity whites and rosés will give their best when served chilled (but not frozen) and a 45F should be the lower limit. Conversely, a sweet wine or a tannic full-bodied red must be warmer from 52 to 64 according to varietals and regions. A wine presenting a high alcoholic degree will be better a little cooler (2 or 3 degrees off) than the ideal drinking temperature.

When served at the ideal drinking temperature, i.e. the exact temperature that reveals richness of aromas, flavours and well-balanced body, wine can deliver a very pleasant -sometimes even unforgettable- experience. Tasting different wines will help your palate to adapt, for a long-lasting know-how.

As a newcomer on the site, let me introduce myself. My name is Martin Malbecq and I am responsible for the Internet Information at Climadiff, the leading wine cellar specialist in France.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:37 pm

Martin,

Do you think there might be a connection between you 'strongly recommending the use of a wine cabinet' and the fact that you sell wine cabinets?
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:55 pm

Frank LaClair wrote:Right on the mark Robin !! I have to say with the high alcohol levels in modern wines, serving at room temp makes for a hot wine to become too hot. I like a red served at about 60 degrees for my taste. As for a white, I had an 04 Rodney Strong Reserve Sav. Blanc served rather chilled yesterday. It was a bit too cold at first but as it warmed it went through a wonderful change of character that made both my wife and I smile and decide we could buy this one again. It was a bit softer than I like for pairing with food, but excellent on its own.


Frank, great to have you on the forum. I am tasting a few pinkies right now and it is interesting to note the effects on the palate as the wine warms up. I am also a big SB fan, especially NZ, and many changes with these wines too as they air in the glass!
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Kyrstyn Kralovec » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:07 pm

Robin - I think I'll try your experiment tonight w/ a bottle of Li Veli. Hope it's not to heavy a red for that? I'm used to slightly chilling beaujolais, pinot noir, etc. but not many other reds (although I've chilled syrah to a suprisingly pleasing effect before).
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:48 pm

At our Spanish "guormand" dinner on Saturday, I insisted that even the red wines be chilled. The Cava was great and the rioja was perfect with the pork. Prosecco would have been enjoyable too. I find I am drinking a lot of Italian bubbly this summer.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Too darn hot (Bartolotti Prosecco)

Postby Kyrstyn Kralovec » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:47 pm

Well, I tried Robin's experiment, and I think I understand why I'm normally hesitant to chill red wines. It seems to dilute the aroma for me. While the negroamaro was certainly more refreshing with a chill to it, the nose was much weaker, and the flavors just not as rich (seems like the structure of the wine stood out in stark contrast to any fruit or other nuances).

I guess this is probably true of whites too, now that I think of it. But with whites it seems like the "sweet" fruit scents/flavors, even in dry whites, becomes a bit overwhelming (cloying) when consumed too warm.

Not sure why this is? I assume it has something to do w/ the tannins. I prefer my tea hot to cold...very rarely order iced tea. And chocolate...my husband likes it out of the freezer, but I prefer the more full on flavor of it at room temp. I guess I just like my tannins warm!
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