The Importance of Temperature Control

June 13, 2014
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By Nicholas Harary

Over spring break, my family took a trip to South Carolina.

Let me tell you, I had an interesting experience at a wine shop in Charleston. They have a unique concept for the same space – wine for adults and an ice cream stand for all ages. It was definitely surreal to listen from one ear my daughter complaining that my son’s cone was bigger, while out of the other, listening to some wine guy expound upon the virtues of “natural winemaking.”

My real problem with this place is the issue I have with most wine shops. They don’t temperature control their wines. The wines sit on a rack on the wall at 70 to 75 degrees, just cooking away. Customers wouldn’t leave their ice cream out at room temperature, why don’t they care about their wine?

The reason is simple, because customers don’t demand it. It’s odd too, because a lot of people know it’s not right, but they just ignore it. I have been told by many people that they are not concerned because they have a wine fridge or wine cellar installed in their home to keep the wine at 55 degrees. Hmmmm, if you buy a gallon of milk that is spoiled, would it taste better the next day if you put it in a sub-zero refrigerator overnight?

Wine is an agricultural product and for it to be at its best, it needs proper handling, from the time it leaves the winery until it gets to your table. There are many places along the chain where heat can damage wine. At Nicholas Wines, we will only buy wine that has been picked up, shipped, stored and delivered at cool temps. For wine to be at its best, the warmest it should ever be is after it has been on your table for an hour or so.

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Heat damage, even moderate heat, changes wine. At the severely damaged end of the spectrum, the wine will seep out of the bottle, it will taste like nothing but alcohol. Those are pretty obvious and easily avoided. The silent killer is at the low-end of the damage spectrum, where the aromatic lift, intensity and vibrancy of the wine is compromised. The wine might taste a little dull, flat. There are literally millions of bottles in the market like this; it’s a real shame.

I think when you first open a bottle of my friend, Sergio Germano’s 2013 Barbera, you’ll see absolutely nothing has been compromised. This wine tastes exactly as it does in Middletown, N.J., as it does in Serralunga, Italy. The nose is pure, loaded with red flowers and wild berries. The wine is juicy and snappy, with tons of fruit yet it’s light on its feet, so incredibly food-friendly. It’s a great candidate for a house wine, delicious with pizza, burgers, roasted poultry, really with anything you are cooking on the grill.

Regular price, $21, Nicholas Wine’s price, $19; case price, $204 or $17 per bottle. Log onto to order by the bottle or case.

Nicholas Harary is the owner/executive chef of Restaurant Nicholas, located in Red Bank. It is New Jersey’s highest Zagat-rated restaurant. Nicholas Wines is an online retail wine store that commits to storing wine at 56 degrees and ships nationwide.

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