Okanagan Taste: Keeping your wine cool

One of the worst crimes you can commit against wine

One of the worst crimes you can commit against wine as temperatures creep towards 40 degrees is to warm up your wine. Local or visiting wine enthusiasts, take note: it’s hot, and your wine doesn’t like it. And you won’t either if you spoil the bounty you take home after wine touring.

Not many of us properly prepare for wine touring in the heat, thinking we’ll just hop in the car, hit a few wineries and head home. But as you’re loading wine into your hot car, keep in mind that your new purchases can be in jeopardy faster than ice cream melts on the sidewalk.

Wines under screwcap may fare a bit better in the heat, but wine under a cork, not so much. A hot car can dry out a cork in record time, ruining characteristics of the vintage inside. Coupled with a warm bottle, the air in the bottle expands, causing leakage and exposing the wine to oxygen and oxidization. Sparkling wine? The cork may even pop off.

Is the bottle itself hot, not just warm? You’ve probably “cooked” your wine as if you put a glass in the microwave for a few minutes. Hot wine? Unless it’s mulled and there’s snow outside, it’s probably undrinkable. But a little prep and you can protect your wine while traipsing around the Okanagan.

If you can, tour at cooler times of the day. Morning or late in the day; the temperature will be lower, and the tasting rooms may be less crowded. And your palate is fresh in the morning.

An insulated re-usable shopping bag can protect a few bottles for a short time, the kind you can now purchase alongside regular cloth shopping bags, but for produce and dairy. Cool it in the fridge or freezer overnight, and throw in an ice pack at the bottom. Better yet, take a cooler with an ice pack or two, but even without the latter, it will protect your wines from direct sunlight and a rapid rise in temperature.

And finally, if you’ve been spur of the moment and are totally unprepared, ask the tasting room staff for a box or two. Put your wine in the box with the lid closed. At the very least, the cardboard will keep out the sunlight and keep the temperature a bit lower. The trunk is probably a better spot for storage, as it’s dark and likely cooler than the passenger area unless you can run the air conditioning up front.

Failing all that, you can always take your box or bag into each winery for safe keeping, and enjoy your tasting worry free. Just don’t leave your purchases behind.

Save the Date

August 11-13, Naramata: Enjoy Bard on the Bench at Township 7, performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, outdoors under the evening sun: township7.com

August 13, Kelowna: The ninth annual Feast of Fields, a wandering harvest picnic, is at Caldwell Heritage Farm: feastoffields.com/buy-tickets

August 18, Oliver: Uncork the Sun features food, live music, and wine – a kickoff to Oliver’s Sunshine Festival: oliverosoyoos.com/Events

August 18, Oliver: Golden Mile Bench Vineyard at Tinhorn Creek, a vineyard walk while sampling wines, followed by an al fresco reception at Miradoro Restaurant: tinhorn.com/product/GMBAug18

August 26, Okanagan Falls: See Ya Later Ranch hosts the Taste of the Okanagan Outdoor Festival, part of Chef Meets BC Grape, an afternoon of food and wine, seminars, chef demos, and celebrity chefs: chefmeetsbcgrapeokanagan.com/tickets

August 27, Naramata: Chef Victoire Bongo of the Naramata Heritage Inn teams up with Upper Bench Winery and Creamery for a long table dinner: facebook.com/events/1598896806807897

August 24-27, South Okanagan: A number of locations host events for the first Chef Meets BC Grape in the Okanagan: chefmeetsbcgrapeokanagan.com

August 27, Penticton: Garagistes North, a wine festival for small (hard to find) producers, returns with grilled cheese sammies and smokies, a true “garage” experience: garagistenorth.com

August 31, Summerland: Live music at Okanagan Crush Pad, featuring Theresa Pasaluko Music: okanagancrushpad.com/events

Wednesdays, West Kelowna: Every Wednesday through September 6th, Quail’s Gate hosts its Dinner in the Vineyard series, four courses plus wine: quailsgate.com

Sundays, Keremeos: On select Sundays through to mid-October, head to the historic Grist Mill at Keremeos for its Sunday Dinner series, with themed menus: oldgristmill.ca/events

Wednesdays, Naramata Bench: The Naramata Heritage Inn features Tiki Night beginning at 7pm every Wednesday this summer, with local songstress Yanti, and the cuisine of Ambrosia by Chef Victor Bongo: naramatainn.com/ambrosia-restaurant-lounge