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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
How cold is too cold?

Everybody knows that excessive heat is bad for wine. But what happens if your wine gets too COLD?

This is a non-trivial issue for wine lovers on occasion, most often when you have wine shipped during winter months ... stash your wine-shop purchase in the trunk of your car and leave it parked on a blustery day ... or put a bottle in the freezer for a quick chill before dinner and then forget it's there.

Here's the good news: Unlike extreme heat, which can permanently and fatally damage wine on very short exposure, extreme cold doesn't usually damage wine. Even if the wine freezes solid, the primary threat would be that the expanding liquid might break the bottle or force out the cork. In the absence of such physical damage to the container, the experts say that extreme cold - even freezing - has no lasting effect on wine.

What's more, because of its alcoholic content, wine freezes at a substantially lower temperature than water, and even at temperatures as cold as the lower 20s F (minus-6 C), it thickens into a slush long before it hardens into a giant ice cube.

On occasion, wines subjected to freezing temperatures may develop clear, glassy tartrate crystals in the bottle, but these are harmless and don't normally affect the flavor of the wine.

And, contrary to the conventional wisdom about some beers that suffer from temperature changes, there's really no harm in chilling wine, returning it to room temperature, then chilling it again later. If you have wines in the fridge and would like to take them out to make room for other things, there's no need to fret that the wine might be damaged.

In an ideal world, wine thrives best in long-term storage at "cellar temperature" around 55F (13C). But failing that, too cold is better than too hot. If you have to choose, pick the chilly basement over the stuffy attic for your wine collection, and you won't be sorry.

Do you have tales to tell about experiences with wines that got too cold, or too hot? Join an online discussion on this topic in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, Or, if you prefer, send me E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note; but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

We hope you'll invite your wine-loving friends to register for their own free weekly copy at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Fruity Loire red
Bourgueil Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 1999 Bourgueil ($12.99)
This easy-to-like Cabernet Franc comes from Bourgueil ("boor-goo'yuh"), a region of the Loire Valley near Touraine. In contrast with the "green" and herbal nature of many Loire reds, this quaffable wine is almost Beaujolais-like in its forward fruit. Very dark ruby in color, it offers appetizing cherry-pie flavors, fruit and spice. Fresh flavors follow the nose, juicy fruit and tart acid in balance. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (March 3, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: A delicious pairing with a mild Southwestern-style dinner of chorizo sausage and avocado on cornmeal pancakes.

On the Road Again:
Visiting Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Slovenia
For the next couple of weeks, I'll be visiting Slovenia (part of the former Yugoslavia) as a judge at the Ljubljana International Wine Competition, and I also hope to spend a few days touring vineyards there and in nearby Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Northeastern Italy. If any of you live in or know these areas well and would like to offer me suggestions of wineries to visit and other advice, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, as always when I travel, I will try to keep The 30 Second Wine Advisor coming, but please note that it may be off schedule (probably a day or two early next week, perhaps several days late the week after that), or may come in a curtailed version.

Biologique and Biodynamique
Reader Lauriann Greene, in France, chimes in with a gentle correction to last week's allusion to "biodynamique" as the French equivalent of "organic" in wine: "In France," she explains, "organic products are called 'biologique.' 'Biodynamique' refers to a particular technique of organic farming that is based on the phases of the moon and many other somewhat mystic factors. It is an increasingly popular approach to viticulture in France, but there are many wine growers who use 'biologique" techniques that are not 'biodynamique.' Generally, the term 'biodynmique' is not used on wine labels."

Thanks to Lauriann for setting us straight.

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SPECIAL JOINING OFFER for 30 Second Wine Advisor readers: Mention that you saw this advertisement, and you will receive three bottles for the price of two in your first shipment.

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30 Second Administrivia
This free weekly E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday. Previous editions are archived on The Wine Lovers' Page. See

You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. If for any reason you no longer want to receive this publication, simply send a short E-mail to '' asking to be unsubscribed (and, if you wish, offering us any suggestions you may have as to how we could have served you better), and we'll remove your name from the list. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone. Please contact us in the same way if your E-mail address changes. And of course we welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. Send us E-mail at

A note about our HTML Edition: Please note that as of December, 2000, we have temporarily suspended publication of an HTML edition (with images), because of persistent technical problems. However, if you signed up for this edition, we are keeping your preference in the database, and you will get it again if and when we resume it.

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you join the interactive, international forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group.

Vol. 3, No. 8, March 12, 2001

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