Heat wave wine advice
Most of the country seems to be suffering from record-breaking heat: 108 in New Jersey, 101 in New Hampshire, 104 in New York. It's even supposed to be in the 90s this week in Indiana, where I'll be judging the Indy International Wine Competiton, always one of my favorites.
And we've even noticed the heat in Dallas — call it unseasonably warm. Today could be the 31st consecutive day that the temperature has exceeded 100 degrees, the second most on record. But what may be worse is that we have had only two mornings since July 6 when the temperature dropped below 80.
But never fear. The Wine Curmudgeon has a few suggestions so that you don't let the heat get in the way of your wine drinking. (and no, none of them involve setting the thermostat to 68 — I'm even cheaper about electricity than I am about wine). More, after the jump:
• Ice cubes are not a bad thing, and neither is the refrigerator. Are we drinking first growth Bordeaux or cult Napa cabernet, where the least little thing will destroy the wine? Nope. For the most part, we're drinking simple wines, and leaving them a little longer in the fridge or adding an ice cube — even to reds — won't hurt. I chilled one of my favorite red blends, Toad Hollow's Erik the Red, on day 15 of our streak, and it was still quite tasty.
• Unoaked chardonnay. The point here is not oaked vs. unoaked, but to note that unoaked chardonnay is usually less heavy, fruitier, and easier to drink when the temperature is 100 degrees.
• Check the alcohol. Less alcoholic wines are easier to handle in the heat. Or, as my old pal Jim Doutre, who has spent most of his life in the wine business, likes to point out: The guy who is grilling a steak in the backyard this summer and drinking high alcohol red wine is making himself miserable. Literally. "What can he possibly be thinking?" says Doutre. "It’s absolutely absurd to be drinking that kind of wine on a hot day. That kind of wine will hammer you to death."
• Spanish and Italian wines. It's warm in Spain and Italy, right? So what kind of wine do they make there? Wine to drink in warm climates. The whites, like Soave or albarino, are perfect for this weather, and even the red wines are gnerally lighter and less alcoholic than what you'll find in California.