Red wine isn’t supposed to be cold, right? Wrong… sometimes. The wine world is warming up (ha!) to the idea of chilling certain red wines for summer drinking.
“Room Temperature” v. Chilled
First, let's clarify some terminology. We've all heard that red wines should be served at "room temperature". Sadly, in America, this has translated to serving wines at 75֯ Fahrenheit. This is entirely too warm! The recommended serving temperature for light-bodied red wine is in the high 50֯s F and in the mid 60֯s F for heavier reds. In the latest issue of Decanter magazine, Matt Willis describes how red wines above 65֯ F become "blurred and soupy", meaning individual flavors are less distinguishable.
For some people, Matt Willis's "room temperature" may already make the wine feel sufficiently chilled. So, you are left wondering what then is "chilled"? Chilled temperatures may be as much as 10֯ cooler.
How to Chill Red Wine
Choose the gentlest method possible given your available time.
- Place the wine in your refrigerator for 25-30 mins (time may vary depending on how warm the wine was to start with)
- Place wine in an ice water bath for 10-15 minutes
- Wrapped in a wet towel and put in the freezer for 10 minutes
Regardless of your chosen method, make sure to set a timer! Do not put water-based ice cubes in your wine. This will dilute the wine. Reusable stones or steel cubes work well if you are trying to chill a glass instead of a whole bottle. Frozen grapes are a fun replacement for ice cubes.
The Best Red Wines to Chill
Opt for wines that are light-to-medium bodied and have medium-to-high acid. Cooler climate wines fall into this category. Opt for younger, fruitier styles that are not heavily oaked and are not overly tannic.
Here are some suggestions:
- Barbera: Barberas from the cooler climate of northern Italy have sufficiently high acidity and low tannins. The Le Quattro Terre Barbera d’Asti has fruity plum and berry notes.
- Beaujolais: Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape is naturally light and fruity with low tannins. Try the Quatre Saissons. It has bright red cherry, strawberry and spice flavors.
- Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is a thinned skinned grape that grows best in cool climates. Acid levels tend to be high and tannins tend to be low. The Mienklang Pinot Noir is biodynamic and received a 90-point score from Wine Spectator.
- Zweigelt: an Austrian grape with high acidity and medium tannins. Try the Hillinger Zweigelt with berry and white pepper notes.