Reds to serve chilled
Sure, you’ve probably heard the old-school rule – serve white wines cold, red wines at room temperature. But whoever wrote the wine rule book was doing it somewhere a hell of a lot colder (Northern Europe, mainly).
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’s a guide for which reds prefer the cool, mofo - with our top chilling method as a bonus too.
What’s worth chilling
Perfectly perfumed for a summer’s day - it might surprise you, but chilling your pinot noir is the way to go mofo. A classic cool climate wine, pinot noir loves to be served in a similar environment - slightly cooler than room temperature. If it’s served much warmer then there’s the risk that its light body will start to sweat out, and you might find the acidity starts to switch from darn refreshing to sharper-than-you’d-like. Treat yourself to those stunning red fruit and plum notes that pinot noir classically does so well by taking the temperature down a degree or two.
The classic - 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.
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.
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.
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 Riojain 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.
Got no chill? Here’s how to get it
For most reds, 20 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; 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.