Chill, don’t freeze

Summer is here, and it’s too darn hot. We have a forecast high of 91º this afternoon, and it’s already feeling steamy at mid-morning. Doesn’t a glass of ice-cold wine sound good?

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Well, hold on there just a minute, partner. A nice chill goes well on a glass of dry white wine or rosé on a day like this. But ice cold? I’m not willing to go that far, at least not with a wine good enough to recommend. Iced tea or iced water, sure! I’ll quaff a cooling draft with pleasure on a fiery day, and sigh with the pleasure of feeling my core temperature drop from the inside out.

But a beverage that I’ll drink for the flavor interest – and I include quality craft beer in this category along with good wine – loses a lot of its pleasure if you chill it down to a near-freezing temperature that stuns your taste buds. A big part of the enjoyment of good beverages like these for me is their complexity and interest of aroma and flavor. Ice-cold serving temperatures kill that dead.

As a matter of fact, the kind of cheap industrial-made wine that most of us probably don’t drink usually comes with the suggestion “Serve well chilled” on the label. There’s a simple reason for that: You don’t want to dwell on the flavor of that stuff. Run away!

So here’s my advice: Yes, chill your pink and white wines when you want a cooling experience, but don’t freeze them. You can even cool a lighter-style red a bit for summer pleasure, but please don’t serve reds cold. That’s another story for another day.

But how cold is cold enough, and how can you tell? Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest that you carry a thermometer around and nervously recheck your wine’s temperature every few minutes. That is not a good approach to relaxing with a glass. All you really need to do is use your senses. You’ve got them out for the purpose of enjoying your wine anyway.

What goes with Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé? How about some linguine with sage and butter, and avocado salad with goat cheese?

What goes with Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé? How about some linguine with sage and butter and avocado with goat cheese?

Let’s consider an example. On a recent steamy day I opened a particularly enjoyable pink wine, the Domaine Célene & Frédéric Gueguen 2019 Bourgogne Rosé that you’ll find reviewed below. I didn’t want it ice-cold, but I certainly didn’t want it warm, so I took a stab at hitting a good serving temperature by stashing it on the top shelf of our refrigerator at abour 40ºF for about an hour.

It came out just right, although holding it in the fridge any longer might have taken it down to the too-cold side. The wine’s pleasant melon and berry aromas were clear and distinct; its fresh-fruit flavor and subtle grace notes showed through as fine complexity. It’s a good wine. I recommend it, especially in this season.

But what happens if we crank down the cold? To find out, I screwed the metal cap down tight and stashed it in the freezer at 0ºF for an hour and a half. That’s not long enough to freeze a liquid with 12.5% alcohol, but there may have been ice crystals in the liquid when it was poured. The glass immediately frosted with a clear mist – a sure sign that it was too cold – and its flavors had been muted. I won’t deny that it remained a pleasant quaff. But in contrast with the same wine enjoyed cool but not nearly frozen at lunch, it had lost its interesting complexity and minerality, coming across as ice-cold, tart and tangy berry juice that frosts your taste buds.

But here’s the good news. The big chill did it no permanent harm. Even after 10 minutes on the table it started to open up again, and after 20 minutes, it showed just fine. Any tempreature from there to 55ºF cellar temperature should work, but you might want to keep the bottle in the fridge between refills on a hot day.

And no, in case you were wondering, you definitely don’t want to let it get too warm, either. A sample allowed to come up to 70º-plus room temperature showed a full, ripe aroma, but the flavor was no longer appealing. Soft, slightly sweet, and one-dimensional, it needed to go back in the fridge to get itself back in shape.

You don’t need a thermometer. You’ll be able to tell when your wine is at the Goldilocks spot: not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

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Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. And that’s not all. offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Today’s Tasting Report

Domaine Célene & Frédéric Gueguen 2019 Bourgogne Rosé ($16.99)

Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé

This pale, bright copper color rosé is 100% certified sustainably grown Pinot Noir. Its intriguing aromas blend watermelon and red berries with subtle wildflowers and a hint of almonds. On the palate it’s dry and crisp, with little or no sweetness, and gentle but perceptible acidity to give it structure. Red-berry fruit follows the nose, with intriguing rainwater-over-stones minerality giving way to brisk, mouth-watering acidity and 12.5% alcohol in a long, cleansing finish. An excellent rosé, fine at the table or for summer sipping. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections Inc., Cincinnati. (June 25, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: The winery makes specific suggestions: Grilled sea bass with fennel, langoustines with paprika, spicy dishes, and barbecue. We enjoyed it with spaghetti with butter and fresh sage and an avocado and goat-cheese salad.

WHEN TO DRINK: The winery suggests drinking this crisp rosé “in its youth and freshness,” and I agree. If you can, drink it within a year or two of the vintage and then move on. Don’t toss an older bottle, though. It will still be good, especially with its sturdy metal cap to protect it.

My local price is in the range of’s $16 average U.S. retail. It’s a fine value in a crisp, interesting pink wine at this price point.

Here’s a detailed fact sheet in English from producers Célene & Frédéric Gueguen.

Check prices and find vendors for Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for all the Bourgogne wines produced by Domaine Frédéric and Célene Gueguen.

This Wine-Searcher link offers information and links to dozens of Bourgogne Rosé-Clairet wines.

Now’s the time! Find a bottle of something special that you’ve been hoarding, or go buy an extra-fine bottle, and poke a thumb in the eye of everything that the nation and the world is doing through. Then come talk about it in this month’s Wine Focus conversation, Open that Bottle Month!, in our WineLovers Discussion Group.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • La Vieille Ferme Vin de France Rosé ($8.99)
  • La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8.99)
  • Laroque Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
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