It’s long been said: Chill your white wines and rosés, but not your reds. Why not?
Sure, many benefit from room temperature treatment, opening up and making a bigger presence felt both in terms of flavor and aromatics, but some reds can benefit from a cool-down, especially in midsummer when cold — or, at least slightly chilled — is all the more attractive. (We’re not talking as cold as the Rockies, after all.)
Here are some red wine styles you might consider tossing in the fridge for twenty minutes or so just before you pop the cork (or unscrew the cap).
Fruity and agreeable, Beaujolais is naturally built like a wine cooler. It’s juicy, red berry qualities make it perfect for a dunk in the ice chest on a steamy afternoon. Know that the main grape of the region is Gamay Noir, a rising American variety, especially along the West Coast. Look to give these sibling wines a slight chill as well, should you run across them in your local bottle shop or grocery store.
We recommend: Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2018.
Known for its nuance, Pinot Noir almost always benefits from room-temperature service on top of some breathing or decanting. But cooler vintage wines, which tend to have lower alcohol and more acid, can be downright refreshing when served slightly on the cool side. Ask your wine steward for some suggestions based on the growing season and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
For cheaper, non-vintage wines, chill the hell out of it. You’re not going to do a lot of damage to a $10-$12 bottle of Pinot anyhow. In fact, you may even be able to help its cause.
We recommend: Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve
Big and chewy, Tannat is a hefty French grape (that is more known now for its South American bottlings) and is built for grilled meats. But in the summer, you can take the sting out of the sucker with some fridge time. A brief chill turns the volume down on this notoriously powerful wine, making it a bit more approachable on its own. My advice: Take a bottle out of the fridge and have a chilled glass while you’re grilling. As the rest of the wine comes to temperature — and the merciless summer sun finally sets — it’ll pair all the better with your steak or burger.
We recommend: Stinson Vineyards Tannat
In addition to being fun to say (go ahead, say it out loud, we’ll wait), Frappato is a joy to drink. The Italian wine, produced primarily in Sicily, is a fairly close relative of Sangiovese and tends to show a lot of red fruit with a medium-light body and a reasonably low alcohol by volume. Look out for tasty options from the Mt. Etna area and try them — after a slight chill to heighten freshness — with summer salads and even grilled fish.
We recommend: Il Frappato, Valle dell’Acate 2017
Big old Zinfandel is known for its jammy, fruit-driven nature, and we’re not just talking about ever-popular White Zin. The straight-up red version is bold, but so juicy that a cooler serving temperature can clean the whole thing up a bit. It’s a nice way to turn down the variety’s signature spice flavors and bring the fruit more into the foreground.
We recommend: Dry Creek Vineyards Heritages Vines Zinfandel
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