Red wines served chilled makes sense because it’s been very hot this week. If you, like me, enjoy drinking red wine in summer but want to know which red wines can be served chilled, here are some factors to be in mind.
The temperature at which we drink any kink of beverage is important. If asked, how do you like your beer warm or cold? Coke with ice or without? You wouldn’t need to think twice before answering.
There are many wine books with information on the correct temperature at which to serve wine. However, while the temperature at which you serve wine is very important the temperature of your surroundings is just as important. So if it is 30ºC outside you may want to chill a wine down to make is taste fresher.
Not all red wines should be served chilled because lower temperatures can make the tannins taste harsher and more astringent and bitter. Also, colder temperatures will make the wine taste less fruity. Serving white wines very cold also ‘dumbs down’ the fruit flavours but because white wines but you don’t have the tannins and body of the wine to take into account.
There are some reds that actually benefit from being slightly chilled. Red wines that are lower in tannins, for example a lighter style of Pinot Noir from New Zealand or southern France, can be surprisingly pleasant and fruity after spending 20 minutes in the fridge. Pinot Noir is a grape variety that is lower in tannin, than say a fuller bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, and has a vibrant red berry flavours that are very refreshing when served chile.
Garnacha or Grenache, as it is known in France, is another grape variety that is low in tannins and served chilled makes an ideal red wine for a barbecue. However, you should choose a wine that is youthful and lighter in body not a fully bodied monster from Priorato.
Chilling a red wine slightly will also reduce the warmth or slight burn you get from the alcohol. The lighter bodied the wine the more you can chill it.
Use an ice bucket to keep your red wine chilled, 10 minutes before serving, but don’t let the wine get too cold otherwise it will lose flavour. The best way to chill any wine in an ice bucket is to add water and a pinch of salt. This will chill the bottle of red wine more quickly.
Other red wines that are perfect for the summer seven chilled. A young Rioja, or a Beaujolais from France or a young Chianti, from Italy made from Sangiovese which is naturally quite high in acidity.
During the peak summer months and it best to save your fuller bodied red wines that are higher in alcohol for another day. If the serving temperature of a big Cabernet Sauvignon from California or an Australian Shiraz with 14% alcohol is too high the wine can taste heavy and out of balance.
Why not experiment and try chilling different reds and see how they taste. Some will work better than others but this will depend on your own preferences.