We all know that serving red wine at what is considered room temperature (depending on your definition, around 22°C) is complete nonsense. That's just way too warm. Instead, red wine should generally be served at around 16°C, with some types slightly warmer while others slightly cooler. And in wine terms this actually is called ''room temperature'' - you can even read it on the labels ''serve at room temperature (16°C to 18°C)''. So why do they call it ''room temperature''?
One theory that I've heard is that in old French chateaux in the 19th century the ambient temperature would be around those 16°C to 18°C. Really? That cold? Like they didn't have hearths? I'm not buying this.
Here's what I think:
Obviously since the English-speaking world is rather new to wine making, this instruction has originally been penned in some other language, probably French. If you read the French labels, they say ''servir chambré'', which sounds kind of different. Chambrer means, according to dictionary, ''to bring to room temperature''. The past participle implies that you're supposed to do something to the wine before serving it, that chambré is not the state it's normally in. I think they would store all wine - white or red - in a cellar, where temperatures would be around 12°C. And for reds, they would bring the bottle to the room for an hour or so to warm it before drinking. While they wouldn't bring it completely to room temperature, they would bring it at least closer to it. And hence chambré, which got translated into English as room temperature and has been confusing everyone and ruining wines ever since.
What do you guys think?
Sticking to what the OT was talking and asking.........I believe it IS a matter of interpretation of the meaning behind the language. To "server chambre" actually correctly interpreted means "to let it stay in warm room for a few hours before serving, so it takes slowly room temperature". Another common place interpretation is "take the temperature of the room where one is staying".
The definition used for "chambrer" is "place a bottle of wine in temperature ambient to taste" which it then gives the synonym: warm and the English translation: to bring to room temperature. We can clearly see here that the English translation of 'to bring to room temperature' is a poor substitution for the real meaning of 'placing a bottle of wine in temperature ambient to taste'.
The French definition of "chambre" is "the room in which we can sleep" which takes us back to the times where one did not take wine in a proper dining setting but rather in the rooms one stayed in which happened to be where they were sleeping as well. So I agree that it harkens back to a time all of our technology and mis-interpretations had yet to exist. Also, as it still has the old world meaning and bad English translation behind it, we now understand that back in those days it was bloody cold where they stored their wares and the rooms only barely were better by the fires they lit to keep people somewhat warm. So the ambient temperature would not be above 15-18 degrees celsius AT MOST and the wine drunk for the majority of folk was pisswater to say the least......temperature be damned.
Over the years with our technology as well as education of mind and palate we have the better knowledge to know the who, what, when, where and how we would like our wines. It is an INDIVIDUAL taste that ultimately determines whether a wine should be at "so and so temperature" when serving. Some like it warm and some like it cold........to argue this is folly as you are not them and they you. To say it MUST be something (proper temperature) because "they" (whoever is making the rules at this point) say it to be so is just funny because there are over 7 billion people on this planet with all those tastebuds playing out........I am sure we will find a way to change the definitions of everything again as we go.
So I like the French translation of "servir chambre" and "chambrer" as they seem to dictate a personal preference rather than a hard and fast rule. Salut!!
@Steve TPHC 'A great oenologist insures that the grapes are picked at their prime even if that means they may be required to be picked vine-by-vine let alone row-by-row. The operation may extend over the course of days or even weeks. This is a strictly hand operation so only small vineyards can afford this attention to detail. The hand operation means the wine is made without caterpillars, green grapes, or beetles.'
I believe what you are meaning here is a great viticulturist NOT oenologist. As oenology is strictly the study of wine and wine-making NOT the growing and harvesting of grapes for wine.....that is viticulture.
As well just a note, tannins are determined on the vine not over the time it is aged in a barrel. This is also the job of a well trained viticulturist to be able to determine this by tasting the grape before harvest.
Edited by Fablesable - 4/5/16 at 6:55am