Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Wine for Beginners: Five red wines to serve chilled for summer

Most of the year, we're perfectly contented drinking our red wine at room temperature, am I right? I mean, we really couldn't care less whether it's served fresh from the wine rack, the shop shelf or straight from the bottle, we just want a glass of sodding wine and we don't want to faff about it, thank you.

But suddenly, as soon as summer hits, we get all fancy and start thinking about how lovely it would be to have a lightly chilled glass of red to sip with our barbecued tuna steaks and plates of charcuterie. HOW RIGHT YOU ARE, SUNSHINE.

How cold should I chill my red wine?

The good news is, you don't need to wait very long for your wine to cool down in the fridge.

When most people suggest serving a red wine cold, they refer to it as 'lightly chilled' or 'cellar cool'. Half an hour in the fridge is ample time to lower the temperature enough to freshen the wine up a bit - any more than that and the chill will mask the wine's flavours.

Which kinds of red wines should I chill in the fridge?

Generally speaking, only choose light, fruity wines with a nice zippy acidity to serve chilled. Full-bodied, tannic wines just won't benefit from the cooler temperatures.

That said, I'm not your mother - experiment with chilling any wine you fancy, if you like. Just don't come crying to me if your Chateauneuf-du-Pape tastes a bit funny.

Five red wines you can serve chilled

1. Beaujolais

My number one red for the fridge - the cherry, bubblegum freshness of this wine is so much tastier at cooler temperatures.

TRY: Cuvée des Vignerons Beaujolais, £7.65 at Waitrose - a perfect entry-level Beaujolais to sip with a big plate of charcuterie.

2. Pinot Noir

Not the really good stuff, generally speaking, but tasty mid-week bottles from New World countries like Chile or inexpensive French pinot is lovely after a few minutes in the fridge.

TRY: We've recommended this a few times before but OH GOD the delicious Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir is on offer again at just £6 at Tesco). Hold me back before I buy it all!

3. Italian reds

Now, step away from the expensive Barolo, but some of those lighter, juicy Italian reds are lovely with a little refreshing chill to them.

Some suggestions include barbera d'asti, frappato, and especially ESPECIALLY decent Lambrusco, which is the most perfect summer drink even if it isn't as popular as it should be in the UK yet.

TRY: If you're a member of the Wine Society, grab a bottle of Vecchio Moro Lambrusco for £11.50 - you'll soon be converted.

4. Cabernet Franc from the Loire

Lucienne has already told us all about Loire cab-franc and so I hope you're converted already, but this under-appreciated gem is heaven to sip lightly cooled in the summer. It's not too different to Beaujolais in style.

TRY: Saumur-Champigny 2012 Chateau de Targé, £9.89 at Majestic - lots of red berry fruit and a brilliant firm structure.

5. Cinsault

This grape variety pops up all over the place, from South Africa to Chile to southern France, and tends to have a lovely, lightly peppery character and cherry flavours. It's not as light as the other reds I've mentioned so far but somehow it still tastes delicious when lightly chilled - just don't overdo it.

TRY: Percheron Old Vine Cinsault, £6.25 from ND John. You rarely find a wine that good for that price these days.

And one for luck - Freddy discovered an incredible red vinho verde (yes!) called Tinto Bom at RAW wine fair years ago... it's available here from Portuguese Story for £12.50 a bottle. Well worth a try!

Are you converted to cool reds? Leave a recommendation for me in the comments!