Saturday, June 30, 2012

Foodie Faves: Corkcicle

Focus on the Corkcicle here, although the wine
is a nice one we discovered in South Africa.
In the heat of summer, my thoughts turn naturally to a chilled glass of white wine. Which reminds me of my favorite stocking stuffer for the men in my family last Christmas: the Corkcicle. It’s nothing more than a giant plastic icicle with some sort of liquid inside and a cork glued to one end. You stick it in the freezer – we just keep ours there when we’re not using it – and after you open a bottle of wine (most likely white), you stick the Corkcicle in it and it helps to keep the wine chilled.

As I was doing my research for this piece, I watched a hilarious video in which a guy tried to run a comparison test using two bottles of wine, testing temperatures with and without the Corkcicle. First, his Rabbit corkscrew broke as he removed the first cork. Then his two bottles of wine were different temperatures coming out of the fridge. It became something of a comedy of errors, but he eventually proved that the Corkcicle works, if only to keep the temperature lower by a couple of degrees.

So why bother? With both reds and whites, serve them too cold and you won’t get the full taste of the grape, too warm and they’ll taste alcoholic and “flabby.” And Lord knows, we don’t want to be serving flabby wines. But what temperature do you want your wine to be when you serve it? A little – or a lot – of research will tell you the following:

The lighter whites – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Pinot Grigio, and White Zinfandel – are best drunk at about 45º (F), or just a bit warmer than refrigerator temperature (generally 38º). The same goes for Ice wine, dry sherry, and other sweet dessert wines.

The fuller-bodied whites such as Chardonnays, Sauternes, White Burgundies, Pinot Gris, Viogner, Chablis, and the sweeter German wines, as well as port and sweet sherry, should be served a bit warmer, at 50-55º.

Lighter-bodied reds like Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Valpolicella, Beaujolais, and Rosé wines should be served at 60º, or just slightly warmer than cellar temperature.

And the complex reds – Cabernet Sauvignon (Burgundy and Bordeau), Merlot, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah, Barolo, Chianti, and Rioja – are best at 60-65º.

Champagne and other sparkling wines should be served coldest – straight from the fridge to the table.

But the best advice I found – and the easiest to remember – came from, which quotes Ursula Hermacinski, the former Christie’s wine auctioneer: “Twenty minutes before dinner, you take the white wine out of the fridge, and put the red wine in.”

If you’re having a dinner party and want the wine bottle on the table and not in a bucket or fridge somewhere, my experience is that the Corkcicle does help keep the wine at a nice temperature. And it’s a fun conversation piece.

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