Just chill – red wines to serve chilled
Red wine, be still our beating hearts. Best consumed on days ending in ‘y’, there is a red wine for any occasion if you ask us. Spring picnic: we’ve got a red for that. Festive BBQ, poolside session, “it’s too hot to sleep” nights – you guessed it, there’s a red wine to match. The trick? Pop your red in the esky.
The optimal serving temperature of red wine hovers between 12° and 18°C, making Australia in spring or summer a sauna by comparison. Serving a wine too hot enhances the alcohol and flattens out those glorious flavours the winemaker worked so hard on. In fact, some red wines are even tastier when lightly chilled.
It’s time for vibrant, young and fresh wines to shine. Here you go, mofo.
Cabernet franc might not be as well-known as its Bordeaux buddies merlot and cabernet sauvignon, but ‘the other cabernet’ is the ancestor of these fame-grabbing varietals. In Bordeaux they tend to blend cabernet franc, whereas Loire Valley makers let it star solo. For good reason too – single-varietal cabernet franc delivers bright red berry flavours, refreshing acidity and an herbaceous ‘green’ taste often compared to capsicum. (Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself.) Drink it young and lightly cooled on steamy days, alongside a French pâté for extra smug points.
Now this one is a bit of a trick. The lambrusco grape from the Emilia-Romagna region is almost exclusively made into sparkling wine, and the Italians wouldn’t dream of serving it warm. The lambruscos of the ’80s might have earned a sickly sweet reputation, but it’s all grown up now. You’ll find the best expressions of this Italian wine ranging from medium-dry (semi-secco) to very dry (secco). Frothy and frizzante (lightly sparkling), lambrusco maxes out on fruit flavours and aromas and is basically just a whole lotta fun to drink – preferably in the sun with other fun-loving folk.
Tempranillo is a bit of a chilling rulebreaker – if the body and tannins of a wine are on the medium to high end, like tempranillo’s can be, most purists would serve it at room temperature. But this lively vino – synonymous with La Rioja in Spain but catching on in more and more Australian vineyards – will happily play it cool on hot days, especially when it’s young and unoaked. Serve tempranillo lightly chilled, in the ballpark of 16°, to get those tasty cherry flavours singing.
Along with pinot noir (another sure-fire chiller), sommeliers were chucking Beaujolais in an ice bucket long before chilled reds became a trend. You may have seen this red wine styled as Beaujolais, after the region it hails from. But what you have in your glass is gamay. The berry flavours and crunchy mouthfeel of this French wine style will only thank you for a stint in the fridge.
Italy’s Piemonte region is all across the finer things in life: the home of gorgonzola, hazelnuts, white truffles and the iconic wine duo barbera and nebbiolo. But when the going gets warm, you want a lesser-known Piemonte export – dolcetto. Like so many European varietals, the world’s oldest dolcetto vines are actually found here in Australia, and homegrown examples are worth sniffing out. Its name might mean ‘little sweet one’, but dolcetto almost always pours dry, with lashings of blackberry and spice and a soft mouthfeel that makes it the perfect sipper on lazy, balmy afternoons.
Got no chill? Here’s how to get it
For most reds, 30 minutes max in the fridge is your ticket to lightly chilled perfection. But say you forgot to cool your wine and just can’t wait (we’ve all been there), skip the freezer. Grab a bucket of water, ice and a decent amount of table salt. Without getting all sciencey, salt lowers water’s freezing point, fast. Submerge your bottle in the salty iced water, give it a swirl, and you’ll have a perfectly chilled red wine in 10 minutes or less – fact.
Want to stock the fridge with red wines for summer? We’ve got what you need.