Summer season is almost upon us, and when choosing wines for these light summer eves it’s all too easy to lean on light whites and pale rosés – perhaps we feel these are the only options? But there are more options out out there – and they may surprise you. Welcome to the world of chilled reds and dark rosés.
“Chilled reds?!” I hear you cry, “You don’t chill red wine!” But actually, serving red wine at cooler temperatures is common practice among those in-the-know, and it can be really delicious. Some red wines, namely lighter-bodied reds with lower tannins, can really sing when given a bit of fridge treatment.
A cooler serving can elevate the fruit flavours, tighten the overall structure, and heighten the acidity in a wine, giving a fresh, more mouthwatering effect. The result is a tipple with all the expected complexity of a red wine, but with a more refreshing and elegant finish, and it’s a great way to get your red wine fix even when the sun’s shining.
The best red wines to try chilled are light-to-medium bodied, with minimal oak influence and low alcohol, such as Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. You’ll want to avoid big, bold wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo, as these wines benefit from ‘opening’ and are more suited to the decanter than the fridge.
In terms of temperature – there’s no need to go overboard, simply rest the bottle in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour. Too cold and you’ll suppress all those wonderful wine aromas, but just right and you’ll heighten those flavours and tighten the structure, for a summer sip that works wonderfully with barbecued meats and flavoursome salads.
Let’s go back to basics for just a second: rosé wines typically get their pink colour when the grapes are crushed and the juice is left on the skins. The longer the period of skin contact, the more colour, and so flavour, texture, and tannins, those grape skins will impart. Light, pale-pink rosés like the ubiquitous Provençal style only touch the skins, making these wines light and simple affairs. Darker rosés are altogether more complex, brooding, and interesting – and ultimately more pleasing with food. And, as the style is still somewhat of an insider’s secret, they also offer excellent value for money. Bargain!
Look to darker, raspberry-hued rosés when you want more intensity of flavour – think plump summer berries and lashings of mouthwatering acidity. They’ll pair perfectly with late summer suppers of grilled salmon and flavoursome charred veg. Darker rosés can also stand up to heavier meats, and work wonders with a charcuterie platter, or even a cheese plates.
Already popular in the neighbourhoods of provincial France and the sunny coastal towns of Spain, it’s easy to see the appeal of these these thirst-quenching, food-friendly wines. Serve well-chilled for a summer crush.