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There is no better way to beat the heat than a leisurely afternoon at the poolside, sipping a refreshing white or rosé wine. While fall is quickly approaching, Texans don’t have to worry about plummeting temperatures for months to come; Indian summer is the fifth official season of the South. Our Northern neighbors may be packing rosé wines away, but we can continue to rosé all day! How can you maximize your experience with wines that accent your long Texas summer lifestyle whether it be white, pink or red?

Keeping it Cool

I’ve found that one of the great human unifiers is the inability to agree with your significant other on the temperature in the house. I personally prefer the room to be a tepid 75° while my husband strives for a chilly 68°. However, the concept of ‘room temperature’ in serving standards does not equate to our ideal living atmosphere, but a slightly chilled range between 60-68°. Suggested serving temperatures are meant to act as a guideline to show specific styles of wine in their most optimal tasting environment: This allows wine to highlight the phenolic (aroma and taste) range for which it is best capable.

Suggested serving temperatures are:

  • Sparkling Wine-38-50°F (hint: the higher the quality, the warmer the temperature should be)

  • Light Bodied White and Rosé Wine-44-55°F (hint: light and zesty will be accented by cooler temps, and more floral wines at warmer ones)

  • Full Bodied White Wine- 50-57°F (hint: white wines with the presence of oak will become more aromatic at warmer temps)

  • Light Bodied Red Wine- 53-63°F (hint: softer, fruitier styles of wine will benefit from a light chill)

  • Full Bodied Red Wine- 63-69°F (hint: fuller bodied reds will best benefit from naturally warming in the glass. Start with a light chill and let the wine warm from your hands. Warmer temps will help soothe tannins.)

We’ve all been guilty of stashing white wines in the fridge or swigging a bottle by the pool that lingers in a bath of ice. In addition to just appearing uncouth, the truth is that we are robbing ourselves of wine’s best expressions. Have you ever noticed that the last glass of your favorite ‘cheap and easy’ may not be as enjoyable as your first? The act of over-chilling a wine can be a ‘Band-aid’ for unpleasant scents or flavors, but as the wine warms, the flaws become more evident. However, when you have a well-constructed and high quality wine the underlying scents and flavors are exactly what you seek to experience and will only emerge with the help of oxygen, warming temperatures and time.

Refreshing wine for the hot weather

When a red wine is served too warm, the taste of alcohol dominates the palate and dulls the senses, thus a light chill will help the aromatics flourish. The next time you enjoy a bottle, try the first glass at ‘fridge’ temperature. As you savor the bottle note the differences with each temperature shift.

But why is there so much differentiation based on temperature? Just like solid food, wine can give off different scents as it chills and warms.

The Nose Knows

It has been said that we ‘taste with our brain’. Therefore, the process of ‘tasting’ wine is a multi-faceted cerebral process. Anyone that has suffered from Texas allergies or cedar fever knows that losing the ability to smell results in the inability to taste. 75% of what we perceive as taste comes from our sense of smell or olfaction.

Unique and recognizable scents are created in wine by volatile odiferous compounds. While primary esters offer the aroma of fruit, impact compounds give us the scent of properties that are not always first thought of as edible. For example, the grape Sauvignon Blanc is best known for notes of fresh cut grass, asparagus and ‘cat pee’ (ammonia). Sound appetizing? Don’t put your favorite porch sipper aside yet, these notes are created by a compound called Methoxypyrazene, or Pyrazene, that develops in the grape in varying levels due to climate type and vineyard management. While some find this scintillating, many find it repulsive. When these molecular compounds are carried out of the glass to our olfactory, several things happen before you ‘recognize’ this scent.

  • First, the cilia in your olfactory take hold of the compound and the ‘lock and key’ principle is triggered

  • The proverbial scent key fits into a neurological lock and neurons carry that message to the brain much like a switchboard

  • If the key fits the lock, we open a a visualization or memory. This connection allows us to process scent. Research with patients suffering from dementia confirms the degradation of memory acts in tandem with loss of smell.

Earlier this year, a wine was released with a ‘scratch and sniff’ label, which I found to be particularly enticing. I collected ‘scratch and sniffs’ with obsessive veracity in my youth, but found this to be a perfect metaphor for the complexity of aroma and memory. Imagine for a moment the ‘apple’ sticker, even without its physical presence you can mentally identify its scent. This scent is nothing like a fresh cut apple, nor is it similar to a baked apple, though all three are recognizable as ‘Apple’. The association between the visual cues on a sticker, combined with the smell our olfactory processes help our brain categorize this totally unique scent.

When smelling wine, the mental visualization of what entices you allows you to better taste the complexity of the juice. Much like scratch n sniff stickers, there isn’t a wrong answer – what you associate a smell with is always correct as that’s how your brain has locked that scent memory away.

Whether you consider wine to be a passion, a pleasure or professional pursuit the most important part is that it enriches your life. Enjoy your wines and continue to entice your senses, your brain will thank you someday.

Three Wines To ‘Beat the Heat’

2021 RE:ROOTED 210, ROUSSANNE- Produced with fruit sourced in the Texas High Plains AVA, this brilliant, yet refreshing, white will both tantalize your senses while leaving you refreshed. Notes of candied citrus, vanilla cream and honeysuckle are balanced with crisp acidity.

2021 Saint Tryphon Rosé- Our Sommelier, Jen, fell head over heels for this Rhone Style rosé. With ripe notes of strawberry and melon up front and palate cleansing minerality.

2021 Soto Vino, Texas Glou Glou- Glou Glou is a European wine term that refers to a wine that is perfectly ‘glug-able’ and it perfectly fits this natural Aglianico: A red best served with a slight chill! Limited production, only 5 bottles available!

Jennifer Beckmann and her husband John own the Re:Rooted 210 Urban Winery in Hemisfair

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

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