Our short summer and long days are upon us! While the temperature may be rising, that isn’t a reason to ditch the reds and stick to white wine and beer for our warm-weather days and nights. Nor do we need to struggle with a bottle of big, tannic, high alcohol reds at barbecues and picnics. There are many light, refreshing and juicy reds that are even better served slightly chilled!
Room temperature - or no?
We have all heard the old adage to serve red wines at room temperature; however, this is a rule that was set upon well before the days of central heating and likely came about in France or England - neither of which are the warmest and driest of places! "Room" temperature really means "cellar" temperature, and depending on the wine, the ideal temperature can range from 14 degrees to 18 degrees Celsius.
Some reds can handle even more chill on hot days. Fruity, fresh and lighter bodied options like Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cinsault can really shine after a few minutes on ice. Keep in mind that we are referring to chilling the bottle and not putting ice cubes in the glass, which will only dilute the wine and works better in a wine spritzer situation.
Tannin and oak
Cooler serving temperatures are better suited to light-bodied wines, and this rule can be extended to include wines that have less tannic structure and aren’t exposed to a lot of oak during the winemaking process. Tannins are accentuated with a little chill, and cooler temperatures mask some fruit character, so tannic wines end up tasting very dry and astringent without much balance or pleasure. Oak also becomes more obvious with a bit of a chill, which can become clunky and overpowering. Stick to fruity and unoaked options for chillable reds and you will end up with a glass of wine that is refreshing, elegant and juicy, even for the hottest of summer days.
Which varieties can I chill?
We have put together a new Case Club six pack of wines from around the world that we really think shine after 20 minutes in the fridge or 15 minutes on ice. Experiment with your own and see what your favourites are! Remember: fruity, juicy, fresh and minimal oak and tannins are the general rules to finding the perfect chilled summer red wine.
A Los Viñateros Bravos Granitico Pais
"A Los Viñateros" translates as "To the Brave Vintners" - we're certainly thankful to the Chilean winemakers who made this astounding, light-bodied and fruit-forward red wine made from elegant Pais grapes from the Itata Valley. The Itata Valley was actually the first settlement of the Spanish Conquistadors in Chile during the 16th century, where they brought and planted their own Pais grape vines to keep up with the necessary supply of wine for new settlers.
Waterkloof Seriously Cool Cinsault
Cinsault is a grape native to France - particularly in Minervois and Corbieres where it is used as a blender for its aromatics and juicy fruit. With lower yields it makes lovely, elegant, fruit forward and perfumed wines such as this Waterkloof ‘Seriously Cool’ Cinsault from Waterkloof in South Africa. A little chill heightens the acidity and makes for a delicious and bright glass of wine with lots of juiciness and pretty aromatics.
Wines made from the Gamay grape are usually lighter-bodied and do well with a bit of chilling. The Durdilly Beaujolais is no exception - this wine is a floral festival in a glass. It has a silky palate with raspberry and cherry notes, supporting a fresh bright finish that is enhanced by a short period of chilling.
Joie PTG - Passe Tout Grains
PTG, which stands for "Passe Tout Grains", is a classic but little known wine from Burgundy, France, which combines the Cote d'Or's elegant Pinot Noir with the rich and spicy Gamay from Beaujolais. Joie Winery uses the cool desert climate of British Columbia to their advantage in growing excellent Gamay and Pinot Noir to emulate the PTG style. Its bright, juicy finish and core aromas of dark fruits make for a lovely patio drink when served slightly chilled.
This harmonious, chillable red from Northern Italy is lower in alcohol (12.5%), with flavours of red fruits and cherries and young in taste. Made with Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, transport yourself to the mountains of Piedmont as you enjoy this delicate wine slightly chilled on a warm summer day.
Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara “Piria”
We couldn't do a case of chillable reds without including Italy's famed sparkling red - the Lambrusco! Bubbles do best with a bit of chilling. This dry wine has delicate, fruity flavours of wild berries and intense violet aromas. Due to the style, it's best served quite chilled, at 12 Celsius to 14 Celsius.