Top Sommelier William Wouters: "I prefer to serve wine too cold than too hot"
William Wouters, organizer of the World Championships for Sommeliers has never been shy of expressing his opinion on the wine industry and the way to enjoy this divine drink. In this exclusive interview he doesn't mince his words either. Enjoy!
Best Sommelier of Belgium 1992, Wine Personality of 2014, President of the Belgian Sommelier Guild, owner / partner of Vinhos Doidos (Portugal) with his wife / wine maker Filipa Pato and Vice President for Europe at ASI (Association de Sommellerie Internationale or Association of Sommeliers worldwide) and last but not least organizer of the World Championships for Sommeliers are just a few of the accolades of William Wouters, one of the wine industry’s game changers. We found some time to discuss the importance of the ideal serving temperature.
"The right serving temperature is perhaps one of the most important aspects of enjoying wine," says William Wouters. "For example, if they serve you a nice champagne at room temperature, I do not think you will appreciate such a glass."
The situation for him has improved dramatically when it concerns drinking temperatures: "But of course I am in an exceptional position", he laughs. "Both as winemaker, jury member of various competitions or as organizer of the World Championships for Sommeliers I travel around the world, and end up meeting 'maniacs'. I mean that of course in the positive sense: people who, professionally or privately, are really fanatical and careful with wine and therefore also take care of the ideal serving temperature. Even the restaurants that we visit belong to that category: they are all people who are open to that crucial tasting problem."
Saying that, it isn't always the case. "In Italy, in many cases, red wine is served way too hot. And in France or Portugal, I have noticed this problem at private tastings and in the more medium to low end restaurants.”
The problem of overly warm red wine is particularly prevalent in very warm regions: "They dare to put a red cru on the table at 24°C (75°F) (laughs). Then you actually only need cinnamon sticks and you have a grog. Another common mistake is putting a white or rosé wine in an ice bucket, which is filled with ice cubes, without adding water. Ice cubes alone do not conduct the cold, so that is a senseless practice. "
Playing with ideal serving temperatures
“In many cases it revolves around a generational conflict,” Wouters states: "Many older wine drinkers - and even some winemakers! - are stuck in a 'grid'. The reason: we have always done so, why change? They are not really keen on changing their belief system. And that often concerns also the basics such as the ideal serving temperature. This is much less the case for younger generations. They travel a lot, often speak other languages, are savvy internet users and are therefore better informed. They are more sensitive to drinking their favorite wine at the right temperature and not to mess up. "
Even labels are still full of idiotic mistakes, grins William: "You are right that many back labels from wine bottles provide Both in terms of temperature - which is often much too high - as well as accompanying food. For example, I recently saw a label on Facebook where they stressed that their cuvée was perfectly 'vegan', but the back label suggested that it should be paired with… roasted meat and pizza. So there is still some work to be done... "
Any ultimate tips and tricks? "Generally I prefer a wine that is served too cold instead of too hot. It also depends on the friends, family or business partners you invited. Wine Lovers, owners of wine cellars or wine refrigerator, are already very conscious of the importance of wine temperature. On these occasions you can ”play” with the serving temperature – by serving the wine much too cold or too hot - if necessary in a black glass. This is not to show off,but to learn about how wine reacts differently in different external circumstances. If you host people who do not have any wine knowledge, just stick to the standard rules in terms of serving temperature. "
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"Hi l am Wim, sommelier, and wine enthusiast just like you! My fellow sommeliers understand the importance of serving wine at the correct temperature. They know that if wine is too warm, it will lose its flavors and complexities, and if wine is served too cold, it will numb your taste buds. A few world renown sommeliers and myself will explain this further, and share some interesting (taste) case studies."