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Summer arrives and white wines and rosés rule – wonderfully crisp and chilled to perfection. Red wine barely gets a look in, and unless you’re dining on delicious red meat, it can be forgotten about till the cooler autumn months kick in and the cold winters cry out for a hearty, rich red to warm your cockles.
But why abandon red wine in the summer months? If it’s a cool, refreshing tipple you’re after, why not just chill that bottle of red? While this was once deemed sacrilegious, a refrigerated bottle of red can unleash a fresh acidity in the wine, producing a refreshing deliciousness that is mouth-watering on a hot day.
Granted, there are some reds which don’t improve with chilling, especially full-bodied reds that are rich in tannins. Spicy, earthy or rich soy-like wines also don’t benefit from a spell in the fridge, so it is probably best to keep your shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and other strong savoury reds at room temperature.
Simple young reds that are light and fruity with very low tannins and zingy red berry fruit flavours benefit the most from being in the cooler. Pinot Noir is one of the most obvious choices, along with Beaujolais and simple Chiantis. These succulent, fresh-tasting reds are light-bodied and are great chilled on a hot day. Many bars and restaurants use commercial bottle coolers to keep wine at its perfect temperature, and commercial chest freezers from FFD are an ideal storage solution for wines of any variety.
If you are chilling your wine at home, do not chill it fully to fridge temperature, as this seems to mute the flavours and aromas. Half an hour in the fridge should be enough to attain the right level of chill to bring out the best in the wine. Then serve with your favourite cold food such as pâtés, mild cheeses, cold roast ham, chicken and pork or chilled salmon for the perfect summery meal.
So while white wine and rosés continue to provide us with their refreshing and crisp loveliness on a hot summer day, so too can red wine. With its energy, versatility and complexity, a lightly chilled red can be every bit as delicious and thirst-quenching as the white wine varieties.