Lighter Shades of Red for Summer

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 8, 2018
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While white wines are traditionally associated with warmer weather, particular red wines can be enjoyed all the way through summer. The idea that it should be avoided in hotter months is untrue; a red wine pairs beautifully with the red meat of a summer BBQ.

We share advice on how to enjoy red wine when the weather warms up.

Can red wine be chilled?

Contrary to popular belief, red wine can be chilled and enjoyed in the hotter months. In fact, we’ve found that a wine can actually be too warm at room temperature – especially when you consider that Australian room temperatures can soar well into the thirties. If the wine becomes warmer than 18°C, it loses its structure and the alcohol taste becomes more noticeable. By chilling the wine slightly (even as low as 14°C), more flavours come into focus and it is more refreshing to drink.

How long to chill so you can bring it down to room temperature? We advise anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Even 15 minutes in the fridge will make it more refreshing – but don’t be tempted to put it in the freezer to hurry the process.

Once you open your chilled bottle, it’s a good idea to decant the red to let it breathe.

Which reds work best?

Lighter-bodied wines are easier drinking experiences in summer, as are wines with low to medium tannin. Regardless of colour, fruitier wines are always a safe bet when it comes to summer drinking. A fresh and fruity wine like the Innocent Bystander Tempranillo has luscious fruit characters without tannins too overwhelming for the heat.

A lighter pinot noir works beautifully when chilled – we’d recommend a bottle of Adelaide Hills The Coincidence, due to its spicy aromas and summer berry flavours. A cool grenache also works well with lighter summer meals, especially those with the more pronounced white pepper, fruity qualities that pair beautifully with salads, cheeses and cold meats.

In terms of the chilling temperatures for these specific wines, we believe a tempranillo is best cooled to between 12 and 16°C and a grenache to around 16°C. If you’re looking to chill a more robust red, like a merlot, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, a good rule of thumb is anywhere between 14 and 18°C.

Explore sparkling red

An often-underserved variety, sparkling red – with its robust body and cool refreshing finish – is a different twist on enjoying red in summer. First produced in Australia back in 1881, sparkling red has become a hotly debated, widely-loved local product which, during the warmer months, satisfies the urge for something chilled.

Looking to try sparkling red for the first time? We’d a recommend a bottle of Fox Creek The Vixen to enjoy on a night of summer entertaining. With its dark, crimson colour, matched by intense flavours of opulent blackberry, liquorice and chocolate, this wine is the perfect drop for a summer bash.

So, there you have it. You can now justifiably pop your favourite bottle of red into the fridge and start savouring the cool, refreshing flavours that make summer in Australia a truly special experience.