The other night, a group of us brought a bottle of wine to dinner. It was a good 90 degrees outside and the wine got extremely room temperature – probably 75 degrees. We all immediately added ice from our water glasses to the wine to bring the temperature down. Over the last two years, I’ve written two articles on the subject of enjoying cold red wine in the summer. Last year, I wrote “Ideal Temperature for Red Wine in Summer.” The year before, I wrote “To Chill or not to Chill Red Wine.” This year, my focus is on the benefits of cold red wine.
Zachary Sussman uses the term the “chillable” red in his blog. I think that’s a great term. First of all, it indicates that you’re chilling the wine, not freezing it. The ideal temperature is 55 to 60 degrees. Second of all, it indicates that not all reds are suitable for drinking cold.
Sussman says, “If we normally associate great red wine with qualities like intensity, age-worthiness, and mouth-coating richness, the ‘chillable’ red aims for the opposite criteria. In place of chewy tannins and overbearing oak, the situation calls for bright acidity, alcohol levels under 13 percent and a juicy core of fruit.” He goes on to say that the chillability of a red wine is inversely proportional to the cost, with cheaper wines tending to chill down the best.
Why Is Cold Red Wine so Good?
Lightly chilling a red wine is perfect for hot weather two key reasons:
- The chill tames the alcohol feel, making the wine more refreshing.
- The chill showcases a wine’s fruitiness and its acidity, again making it more refreshing.
The French Make Great Cold Red Wine
The French use the term vin de soif, or “wine of thirst” to describe good chillable reds. One of the best is their Beaujolais, a Gamay-based red from the south of Burgundy. According to Sussman, this “prototypical chillable red… has been poured by the carafe—always properly cooled— for generations in the bistros and cafés of Lyon.”
Sussman talks about the Loire Valley producing “some of the world’s ‘crunchiest’— imagine the sensation of biting into a fresh apple—lightweight reds, such as the Pinot Noir-based Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Rouge.”
Sussman goes on to talk about chillable reds from the Côtes du Rhone in Southern France.
Other Great Chillable Reds
One of my favorite chillable reds is WineShop At Home’s Dolcetto, which we produce at least once each year. Dolcetto’s fruitiness and low tannins make it a perfect wine for chilling. I usually chill it down to about 50 degrees.
I also like to chill my Pinot Noirs. Again, the low tannins make it very suitable for chilling.
I encourage you to experiment with chilling some of your red wines. If you don’t like the wine you chilled, you can quickly warm it up by putting your hands around your wine glass.