Chill Out With A Glass of Red This Summer

Written by
Winsor Dobbin
February 16, 2017
Share Share to Instagram

Red wines can be chilled – just try it.

The red wine revolution is in full swing this summer, with drinkers learning that many lighter reds can benefit from a few minutes in the fridge.

Most of us drink our whites straight from the fridge and our reds from the wine rack, but that means we are drinking our reds too warm. Big, high-alcohol reds don’t tend to work as well on 35-degree days though.

A recent study conducted by Taylors Wines showed that 80 per cent of Australians are drinking their red wine ‘at room temperature’. And while this might seem normal, the warm Australian climate is actually having a negative impact on the flavour of our reds.

The idea of drinking red wines at room temperature comes from France, where living rooms were generally in the chilly 14˚C-16˚C range. In Australia, temperatures in summer are considerably higher and drinking red wine at 24-25˚C or more can rob wine of its finesse and flavour.

So yes, you can pop a bottle of red (although preferably not a big Shiraz or Grenache) in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to serving. This will give it time to chill to the optimum drinking temperature.

Time to experiment

There are several grape varieties that lend themselves to summer enjoyment, whether you want a chilled wine to go with a picnic, or a medium-bodied red to accompany a late-summer soiree.

Pinot Noir, usually soft and fragrant in the lower price points, is a perfect wine style for enjoying chilled. It can be wonderfully refreshing after a short stint in the fridge, but don't leave it too long or it will lose all of its flavour.

The Chalkboard Central Otago Pinot Noir, made by Greg Hay from Peregrine Wines, is a very good New Zealand introduction; it falls midway between suppleness and structure with plenty of juicy fruit characters to the fore.

Tasmania is arguably the trendiest Pinot Noir region in the country right now, with its cool-climate intensity attracting high prices. One of the Tasmanian bargains, though, is the Devil's Corner Pinot Noir, owned by the ever-reliable Brown Brothers. Bright, fresh and vibrant, this fruit-driven wine has bright acidity and lashings of dark cherry flavour. 

From a slightly warmer region, the Aude Valley in southern France, the Le Chat Noir Pinot Noir is in the same sub-$20 price bracket and offers a food-friendly, complex and earthier style that is a real bargain.

Reliably good

Merlot is a grape variety known for its soft, smooth palate and also makes a very good choice for summer barbecues. One of the best-value merlots around, uncomplicated and well-rounded with red berry flavours, is the Angoves Long Row Merlot; a silky number which can either be quaffed, chilled or enjoyed at room temperature.

Perhaps the best grape variety for enjoying slightly chilled is Gamay, the lighter grape used to make the wines of Beaujolais in France. A very good example is the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages, chock-a-block with cherry and raspberry flavours with just a hint of peppery spice. Bottled under a screw cap for freshness, this is a perfect choice for a picnic.

Two other Chalkboard reds (a range made especially for Vintage Cellars) are good choices for everyday drinking; the Chalkboard Barossa Shiraz, a perfect accompaniment to a gourmet sausage sandwich, and the more-medium bodied and spicy Chalkboard Côtes du Rhône.

For those with a little more cash to splash, the Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, the Stefano Lubiana Primavera Pinot Noir from Tasmania and the Dog Point Pinot Noir from Central Otago are all very good choices.

And for something smashable and slurpable for enjoying al fresco, search the shelves for “drink now” reds from 2015.