It’s no faux pas to put that red wine in the fridge. You may be amazed at how just a few degrees can really brighten up these wines and make them more pleasant on the palate in hot weather.
Sartorially speaking, it’s OK to start wearing white after the May long weekend, but what if you don’t necessarily want to drink white wine when the temperatures climb?
Truthfully, while its not exactly gauche to enjoy a red wine in the summer, this may not be the most refreshing beverage for sipping on the patio. Red wines typically show their best at ‘cellar’ temp (16–18°C), so when the ambient temperature rises above that on a warm day, they can seem unbalanced. The alcohol is more up front and the overall mouthfeel just isn’t as pleasant.
Bet on Red
So, what to do if you’re a diehard ‘red-head’ and those big Syrahs, Cab Sauvs and Merlots just aren’t doing it for you in the heat? Well, if you can’t bear to give up your full-bodied reds, the first option is to give them a little chill in the fridge before serving.
“If a red wine is at room temperature, typically around 20° C, I’ll pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes,” wine journalist and accredited sommelier Treve Ring explains. “You can chill a bottle quicker by using an ice bucket filled with a mix of ice cubes and water.”
Another option — what I prefer — is to leave those big boys in the cellar for a few months and explore some lighter-bodied reds or even rosés, which certainly have more oomph and generally more depth of fruit than most white wines — and they can be served, yes, chilled.
A rosé should, of course, be chilled just like a white wine, so no surprises there. It bears mentioning that all wines chilled to fridge temp will be at their best aromatically and flavour-wise after they’ve warmed up a bit. So, even though you should chill your rosé as you would a white, it’s a good idea to take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving.
The wonderful thing about rosés is that they can be made in myriad ways, from various grape varieties, and they range from off-dry to delightfully dry.
Some are red-and-white grape blends, while others are made solely with the juice of red grapes — everything from Pinot Noir to Zinfandel — that had very little contact with the grape skins (where the colour is derived). So you get some of the fruity qualities of a red wine (like those delicious notes of summer berries) in a refreshing, generally lower alcohol by volume (ABV) wine.
If pink isn’t your thing, there are light-bodied reds that can be given a chill (though not quite to white wine temp) and offer a more refreshing option than big, burly reds.
French wines like Beaujolais and Chinon — made from Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc, respectively — are perfect candidates. As are Italy’s Dolcetto, Chianti and Valpolicella.
Closer to home, cool-climate Pinot Noir from B.C. (particularly here on the Island) and Oregon can also be lovely when chilled. These are red wines with good acidity and low tannins, whose bright fruit flavours aren’t compromised by cold.
“The tannins and therefore the structure, of a red wine are heightened with a chill,” Ring notes. “This doesn’t mean the tannins are increased, mind you. Just think of them as sharpened slightly, making the wine seem crisper. In addition, the fruitiness of the wine is enhanced and emphasized.”
It may seem odd to put a bottle of red wine in the fridge — or even to take a white wine or rosé out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit — but it can give you more versatility in hot weather.
In fact, it’s perfectly suitable to drink red wine on a patio in the summer. You just might need to chill out a bit first.
By Adem Tepedelen