Over at Ursula’s home on the blog I experienced a moment of realisation.

Phil mentioned that he drinks his scotch (whisky) with ice. I’m afraid  I reacted negatively as for me the chill of ice deadens the flavours of most drinks. Not being a cocktail fiend I cannot comment on that field of imbibication.

There are other drinks that one should never serve too cold. Great white wines for instance. One should never serve a wonderful flinty dry Chablis or a great Riesling TBA at such flavour destroyingly low temperatures . (TBA= Trockenbeerenauslese…. arguably as great a style of sweet wine as Sauterenes ( Chateau d’Yquem being the ultimate expression of that style).

The habit of serving beers of any kind at mouth numbingly low temperatures is interesting. These beverages can be remarkably refreshing, but then, so can iced water. It has even become fashionable to serve  Guinness chilled. This latter may be something to do with the reported habit of serving this, at one time, wonderful beverage full of bubbles of Nitrogen as opposed to the traditional Carbon Dioxide. The latter has specific effects upon the taste due to its habit of dissolving in Hydrogen Oxide (water to the non scientists) to form Carbonic Acid. Mind you, I am given to understand that even Guinness Original is no longer bottle conditioned. (If anyone from the Guinness organisation (or CAMRA?) would like to confirm or deny these claims then please do as I have to admit that I am quoting hearsay)

Why do these beers need to be chilled? It is reported that on arrival in Britain during WWII American GIs were shaken by our “Warm” Beer. Of course traditional British beers are served at temperatures above the freezing temperature of water. The reason is simple. Theya re  so full of wonderful flavours that it would be wrong to destroy them by cooling them too much.

Now the realisation:

The reason that so many foreign beers need to be served so cold is that they just have no flavour to enjoy or perhaps the flavours are so disgusting that they just have to be closed in.

Psst! My tongue is firmly in my cheek.  There are some wonderful, flavoursome European beers around.

Whatever, please  serve only cheap whiskeys, brandies and the like with ice but always serve your vodka straight from the freezer.



2 Responses to “Ice…..”

  1. Nick Says:

    Having a total aversion to beer and lager, I couldn’t comment on whether it’s better chilled or not, or at what temperature. But I totally accept that white wine tastes better chilled and red wine is best warm. And it’s funny how when corks gave way to screwtops the connoisseurs were outraged, but in practice I can detect no difference whatever in the taste.

  2. magpie11 Says:

    Actually the received wisdom s that even red wines should not be too warm. The old practice of laying the bottle next to the Bain Marie in the kitchen went out years ago…..

    I would say that if in doubt err on the side of caution and serve a little cool and then the wine can warmup in the glass. It’s easier to let a wine served too cool warm up but the reverse is never easy. Cooling a wine served too warm? Nooo!

    On beer … I have just found this webpage…

    from which I quote:
    The first thing that should be addressed, however, are two very common myths. The first is that beer needs to be served very cold. The macrobrewers want you to believe this, and here’s why. The sensation of coldness inhibits the tongue’s taste receptors. Since macrobrews started positioning their products based on any feature they could imagine besides taste, the need to neutralize taste became important. An alcohol delivery system doesn’t need taste. In fact, taste usually gets in the way. A cold refresher could be anything, and in fact alternatives like soda, iced tea or water generally have a less offensive taste than macrobrew. So again, numbing those tastebuds is important. As for what beer marketers mean when they say a beer “has a cold taste”, your guess is as good as ours. So no, beer doesn’t not need to be near frozen. Good beer in fact should not be near frozen.

    The other myth is that English beer is served at room temperature, or “warm”. It’s not. It is served at cellar temperature, which is between 12-14C. Room temperature is 21C. That’s a big difference.

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