Wine FAQs of 91st Issue

Posted On December ,

What is the correct cellar temperature, and do whites and reds need to be different?

Classic cellar temperature is about 55 degrees. We keep reds and whites at about 57 because we find that it’s a good starting point for serving both. Most reds are served too warm and most whites are served too cold, especially at restaurants. We might want to chill our whites a bit more or warm our reds by leaving them on the table as we sip them, but 57 is a good starting point.

Is bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant really OK? Even though there’s a corkage fee?

Absolutely. If a restaurant has a corkage fee, that means they are fine with you bringing in a bottle. Make sure it’s not something they already have on their wine list (tacky) or something that you’d find on the bottom shelf of a convenient store (really tacky). It doesn’t have to be a super-expensive bottle, just something special: a wine you had at your wedding, brought back from vacation, a thoughtful gift. It’s a classy move to offer your waiter or sommelier a taste or leave a little in the bottle for them to enjoy post-shift.

Is Champagne really the best sparkling wine?

In a word, yes. Real Champagne comes from a relatively small region in northern France, where the cool climate and chalky soil combine to produce sparkling wines of remarkable grace and finesse. That’s why good Champagne remains the benchmark for anyone producing bubbly just about anywhere else. What makes Champagne so distinct? Many things, but the most important factor is that the area is too cold for wine grapes to ripen fully. They retain lots of acidity, and while too tart for still wine, are perfect for bubbly. That Champagne remains best doesn’t mean, however, that other sparkling wines are bad. Vintners all over the world make bubbly following the time-honored Champagne method, a laborious process in which a second fermentation in the bottle produces a stream of tiny, delicate bubbles. Their wines can be delicious. Look for an indication of this “classic” or “traditional” method on the label