If you’re longing for a change of pace after a summer full of crisp, icy whites and pale pinks, but don’t want to feel that summer is over by going full bear-hug-red, there is a refreshing alternative: chilled red wine.
Some types of wine are particularly suited to being drunk with a cool tingle, but actually you might want to think about putting any red wine you drink on a hot day in the fridge. Warm sun is no kinder to red wine than it is to chocolate or fresh fruit: it makes the flavours sag and ooze so you end up with a kind of red wine stew. Just 20 minutes in the fridge before opening can pep and perk a bottle up no end. But back to topic: red wines that taste good with a more assertive chill.
Tannins and bitterness are the enemies here. Tannin – also found in tea – is the compound that feels dry to your gums and tongue. At lower temperatures, the effect of both tannins and bitterness is more pronounced, so if you pick a bitter, tannic wine to chill, the experience can be startlingly mouth-puckering. If you want to experience this, try refrigerating a young barolo for a couple of hours. Some may like this, of course: it’s the wine equivalent of putting more chilli in your curry.
There are grapes, however, that most agree are particularly good when drunk at a fresh temperature. These include cabernet franc, gamay and pinot noir. Cabernet franc is most famously grown in the Loire and used to make wines such as saumur, saumur champigny, chinon and bourgueil, which taste like summer pudding.
A favourite is Les Nivières Saumur. There are also some excellent, plusher, examples being made in warmer places like Argentina and South Africa. Gamay is best known as the grape behind beaujolais: it has a tang of red berries and an edge of graphite. Pinot noir is grown the world over, famously in Burgundy, but it’s the cheaper wines from slightly warmer places that I like best for putting in the fridge. Look for juicy, unoaked wines from the south of France, Australia or California, whose ripe cherry and lavender flavours taste good with a clip of cold.
I also like Spanish garnacha fresh from the fridge. These wines have a sumptuous, pillowy feel and a sunny flavour of strawberries. Make sure you get one that’s unoaked and once it’s chilled it will taste like strawberry coulis – gorgeous with cold, rare roast beef eaten outside with salads and some of the fresh sourdough everyone now seems to be making. Bodegas y Viñedos Monfil Garnacha 2018 Spain is absolutely brilliant.
Another good cold tip is frappato. This is a red grape found in Sicily. It’s sometimes bottled on its own, and might also be mixed with nero d’avola to make a wine called cerasuolo di vittoria which really comes into its own on a hot, late-summer evening and is particularly delicious with fish – think tuna steaks or sardine pasta.
Read more articles by Victoria Moore
Victoria Moore is an award-winning wine columnist and author. Her most recent book is the The Wine Dine Dictionary (£20, Granta).
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