s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

I love those TV beer commercials that emphasize the near-freezing temperatures at which some people seek to consume their beer. This is proof that the beer in question is so bland that taste is not what matters most.

What matters most is something else. (And what the heck is frost-brewed? Putting in snow in place of the hops?) Serious beer and wine lovers know that the colder you chill a beverage, the less you can taste it — which, apparently, is how the giant commercial beer companies want their products consumed — so all hints of its taste are wiped out.

People who drink fine-quality beverages like craft brews and fine wine seem to prefer these beverages at cool, not cold temperatures. At such levels, the aromas and tastes are accessible and allow a slow enjoyment of the nuances to replace the rapid downing that occurs with so much commodity beer and wine. (Ever see anyone swirl a can of beer?)

I once heard a friend who had just returned from London complain that the British drink their beer warm. In his view, 65 degrees was warm. I reminded him that he was used to drinking his six packs at 40 degrees and anything higher was, to him, an abomination.

The basic advice I give newcomers to wine is that, with a few exceptions, fine wine should all be served at about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet some restaurant servers who should know better do both whites and reds all wrong.

Many say all red wine should be served at "room temperature." However, the "room temperature" they mention is drawn from the 18th century term "a chamber," which refers to drafty mansions without central heating. Not 85 degree sweatboxes.

I often ask for an ice bucket with some water added so I can cool down a too-warm red wine. This unnerves some servers who have told me that red wine isn't consumed chilled.

Cool, I say, not chilled.

Similarly, white wines in restaurants often are served too cold. One of the worst server tactics is when they constantly jam wine bottles back into ice buckets, even after the wine has been cooled down enough to enjoy it.

White wine that's too cold can also be a problem in many chain operations where most diners prefer their chardonnays ice cold. The poor quality of many wines at such places is masked by the cold.

Fine wine, such as top-flight chardonnays and sauvignon blancs, probably are best at the same 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit that is best for reds.

In some small caf?, even those that carry a great selection of top-rate wines, whites occasionally are served too cold. This happens as a result of economics.

State and local health departments often mandate that restaurant refrigerators remain at 40 degrees to protect food from spoilage. Some of these caf? don't have enough money to buy a second cooling unit for keeping wines at 60 degrees or so. As a result, white wines are cooled in the food refrigerators, and they suffer.

Aromatic white wines such as riesling, gewurztraminer and viognier can withstand a colder temperature, down to 50 degrees or so, but lower than that can harm the delicate aromatics of some older white wines, such as classic older rieslings.

The best strategy for quickly cooling down a white or ros?is to buy a small quantity of those plastic, liquid-filled cubes that can be frozen. Two or three in a room-temperature white will get the wine down to a reasonable temperature in a few minutes.

This also works nicely for micro-managing the temperature in a red wine.

Wine of the Week: NV La Ina Fino Sherry, Jerez ($16) — Fino Sherries can be wonderful and distinctive aperitif wines. They may be served ice cold, and are best with olives, almonds, dried and fresh fruit, and small bits of hard cheese. The best sherries are fresh and young. I adore La Gitana Manzanilla, but haven't tasted it recently. Instead, I tried this reliable brand and found it better than it used to be. It is only 15% alcohol (Finos used to be imported at much higher alcohols) and is light and elegant. Try it alongside a creamed soup.

Sonoma County resident Dan Berger publishes "Vintage Experiences," a weekly wine newsletter. Write to him at winenut@gmail.com.