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Aug 8, 201810:15 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

A Matter of Degrees

The two favorite topics right now around town are the daily temperatures and the Saints preparing for their assault on the NFL. Let’s leave the Saints to their own devices and assume we will all be in that number in another Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Atlanta, in February of next year.

As far as temperatures are concerned, let’s focus on temps we can do something about, and allow the outdoor situation to take care of itself. What we can control are the temperatures of our refreshments, with most of those being liquid. This being New Orleans, and all, it is in this area where most of our interests lie anyway.

We all probably heard from our first sip of wine that the proper temperature to serve and store red wine was “room.” What we were likely not told is that the room noted is a relatively small space in northern France. And nothing around here is ever going to approximate those conditions.

That one piece of Fahrenheit folklore has probably given rise to more faux pas situations than anything else we have ever been told, except the tales about ghosts in French Quarter buildings and honest elected officials. Growing up and facing the truth about a harsh world takes all the fun out of becoming an adult.

Anyway, the proper serving temperature of a wine has a lot to do with what kind of wine it is and your personal preferences. Any wine served too cold for its style dampens the subtleties of the wine which the winemaker pays great attention to achieving. A too-cold wine does not share the aromas and the flavors as cheerfully as a wine at the proper temperature.

That being understood, many wine lovers appreciate their sparkling wines served very cold. Not technically the best way to go, but, it’s wine and we should all drink what we like the way we like. 

A wine served too warm puts the wrong emphasis on certain qualities, such as sugars and tannins, which tend to “stick out” in disproportionate ratios.

You were also likely told by some well-meaning soul that red wine does not belong in a cooler environment, like a refrigerator or even an ice bucket. You have been seriously misinformed by someone who has never been through August in New Orleans.

Wine thermometers are cheap and testing a wine before consumption with a thermometer is an amazing way to improve the wine when the results are taken seriously.

Sparkling Wines of every style should be served between 38° and 50° F.-- Ice cold.
White Wines should be served between 44° and 57° F. – Refrigerator cold
Lighter style red wines, such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, etc., should be served between 53° and 63°.
Heavy red wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, should be served between 63° and 69°.

Never be afraid to put a lighter red wine in the refrigerator or in an ice bucket for 7-10 minutes before serving. Throughout the serving period, keep wines with bubbles on ice, and if the time will be long, use a Champagne stopper to seal the bottle between pours. (Something you already know: the cork that you extract from the Champagne is never going back into the bottle. It will expand to more than twice its size after you open the wine.)

The refrigerator freezer is not a good short-cut to achieving the proper serving temperature of a wine. The difference between freezer ambient temperature and whatever environment the wine was just in is dramatic and could harm a delicate beverage, especially one that has a few years of age.

A lot of the quality of a wine is determined in the vineyard, and then more quality decisions are made in the winery. After that, it’s up to whomever is going to enjoy the wine to maximize quality and enjoyment. None of us want to fall down on our responsibilities, especially after the wine has come so far.  





Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.


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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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