Wine lovers know that the warning “serve well chilled” on the label of a cheap wine is really saying “Numb your taste buds so you can’t taste me.”
Sure, an ice cold drink can be refreshing on a summer day. But if it needs chilling to mask the unpleasant flavors of industrially produced wine, I’d rather leave it on the shelf.
So I was surprised to discover the advice “Best served ice cold, so chill this wine before opening,” on the website of this week’s featured wine, Terratorium Santa Lucia Highlands Tondré Grapefield Vineyard Riesling.
What’s more, it’s a very good Riesling, and yes, I’m going to say it, it was good even ice cold. But it was even better lightly chilled and even barely chilled. Room temperature? As with ice-cold but at the other end of the scale, it was good but fell outside the “Goldilocks zone” of temperature where wine tastes just right.
My advice, for this wine and any good white wine: Try to enjoy them between 45ºF (about 7ºC) and 60ºF (around 15ºC). Straight out of the refrigerator is probably a little too cold, so pay attention and watch its flavors wake up as the wine warms slightly in the glass. Don’t stress about exact temperatures, though. You don’t need a laboratory thermometer. Just let your taste buds be your guide.
Red wine temperature, by the way, is a topic for another day; but in my opinion, cool room temperature is about right, but a few minutes in the fridge before serving will do it no harm.
So what’s going on with the “best served ice cold” advice? As best I can tell, it’s a marketing decision.
The winery fact sheet suggests this Riesling as a refreshing patio drink on a sunny day, as a companion to “light refreshing cuisine,” or to moderate spiciness in foods. This is language suggesting a light, forgettable wine best for quaffing and moving on.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not inclined to pay $30 for a “refreshing patio drink.” But I think the good folks at Terratorium undervalue their own product. I think it’s a much better, more interesting wine than a simple glugging wine. It’s well-made and complex, a characterful and varietally correct Riesling worth its price. Don’t let “Serve ice cold” put you off. It’s worth a try.
Terratorium, by the way, is a fascinating new winery with its roots in Cincinnati. It bills itself as a “digital brand” that markets its wines online without the expense of maintaining a fancy tasting room and facilities.
Sorry, my tasting report this week is limited to paid-tier subscribers, whose support makes it possible for me to purchase more costly wines like this one Take my word for it, though, that this is a fine wine at a price that’s fair for its quality.