Wine is something that can be enjoyed all year round, but the summertime presents many challenges for keeping wine the best it can be. Many parts of the country have temperature swings of 30 degrees or more during the course of the day, extreme enough to be damaging to wine in any range, but especially detrimental when the high temperature nears or surpasses 100 degrees. Those temperature changes are no good for white wine. If you follow just a few simple tips, however, you can make sure your wine stays as delicious as ever.
The first thing to consider is where you are storing the wine even before you drink it. Most people realize that it is a bargain to buy wine by the case, and many of the wines and wineries of California that are so popular offer special deals when buying in bulk. When you get the wine home, you should find a cool dry place to keep all of it. The best option would be a basement that does not have a moisture problem. A great secondary option is a centrally located closet. Some people think that storing it in the garage is fine, but most garages have unfinished ceilings, and direct sunlight on the garage roof can make that area even hotter than the outside temperature.
When retrieving your wine from your preferred storage area, it is important to wait until you are almost ready to drink it. Many people make the mistake of putting their white wine directly in the refrigerator as soon as they bring it home. First of all, the typical home refrigerator is set too cold for proper wine service. A Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio that is too cold loses a lot of the flavor and nuance.
Ironically, the second mistake people make is that once they pull the wine out after it has been in the fridge for a few weeks, they believe it is cold enough and will then sit it out on the table while it is being served. The rapid change from too cold to too warm can shock the wine, compromising the flavor even more. The best way to serve white wine in the summertime is through an indirect cooling process. Much like the grilling process where the hot coals are on one side and the meat is on the other, the best summertime white wine protection is a bucket where the wine is surrounded by ice but not in direct contact with the cubes.
Everybody loves a cold drink on a hot summer day, but if you want to get the most out of your favorite California Chardonnay or other white wine, leave the super cold to the ice water. Protecting your wine through proper storage and serving will help your wine taste the way it was made to.
Jack Terry is a food and beverage writer who lived for several years in the California wine country. http://www.wineclubworld.com