In the bar a few days ago, the subject of wine temperatures came up again. One of my friends was saying that he liked his reds at room temperature. Well of course, that’s fine if you live in a country where the room temperature is under about 14°C (or 57°F). As I am typing this, the room temperature is about 33°C (or about 91° F). Only a madman would serve wine at this temperature. In a tropical climate, red wines invariably taste better served on the cool side, but not ice-cold. I’ve found that the ideal serving temperature for reds is between 12°-17°C (54°-63°F). Nothing ruins a red wine more quickly than serving it to warm.
White wines of course, always taste better when they are chilled – even sherry, for this brings out the freshness and keeps the body firm. Not everyone wants to mess around with ice cubes and wine buckets, so the fridge is usually the next best option. I’d suggest that most whites should be served between 7°-11°C (45°-59°F). You can’t really check the temperature by sticking your finger in the glass. Wine thermometers are difficult to find, but a decent food thermometer will work just as well. I’ve seen them on sale at Villa.
So, on to this week’s wines. (I thought we’d never get there – Ed.) Ramirana is not a new Indian restaurant, but the name of a range of wines from the respected Chilean company of Ventisquero. Although the company was established as recently as 2000, it has already made a mark on the Chilean wine industry. Led by a team of young, creative entrepreneurs, the company is dedicated to making distinctive, high quality wines from some of the best vineyards in Chile.
Ramirana Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (red), Chile (Bt. 329 @ Villa)
This is a rich ruby red wine which shows those long “legs” when you swirl it around in the glass. You’ll need to give it time for the aromas to develop. If you happen to have a decanter, use it for this wine. Actually, I use a decanter for almost every wine I taste – you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. Of course, it’s not the actual decanter that does the trick. The process of pouring the wine from the bottle into another container really gets the air – or more accurately, the oxygen in the air – into the liquid and helps to develop the aromas and flavours.
The aroma of this wine is dominated by black cherries, but in the background you’ll probably detect raspberries and earthy plums. I thought there might be a hint of orange peel in the distance too. The wine is beautifully dry with a cloak of soft ripe tannins and plenty of fruit on the palate. The mouth-feel is soft and seductive and the taste really seems to blossom in the mouth – one of the signs of a really well-made wine. There’s an attractive long dry finish with more hints of soft tannins. The alcohol content is getting on for 14% which is pretty much at the top of the tree for table wines.
This is a lovely smooth, classy wine that is a pleasure to drink on its own. However, for food partners, red meat or assertive cheeses would work well. Serve it cool, of course.
Ramirana Chardonnay 2010 (white), Chile (Bt. 329 @ Villa)
This is a pale, straw-gold coloured wine with hints of green. Swirl it around in the glass and you’ll get a lovely sweet floral aroma. The smell of pineapple will probably come out first, followed by a pleasing aroma of ripe creamy bananas. You might also pick up hints of melon, a dash of citrus and hints of honey.
The mouth-feel is superb, a lovely soft, almost creamy texture yet a perfect fruity dryness with an attractive soft touch of acidity. This is an excellent well-balanced and fruit-forward wine, medium-bodied but quite rich and complex in flavour. I’d be quite happy to drink this on its own, but it would make a super partner for grilled fish dishes, cheese quiche or even mild curries.
It is about 13% alcohol content and it would go well with medium-fat cheeses like Emmenthal or Gruyère. Of course, you’ll need to drink this decently cold. In this climate it will warm all too quickly. Just serve it straight out of the fridge. About 45.1°F would do nicely.