Summertime means picnics, rooftop parties, and barbecues. Our personal histories tell us cool and crisp white and sparkling wines will be flowing at all warm weather parties.
But what about reds? Although red wine might not be the obvious choice to bring to your summer parties, don't give up on it just because the sun is out. There are actually some red wines that are excellent when served chilled.
It is a misnomer that red wine should only be drank at room temperature. “Even the best red is better with a slight chill — when wines are served too warm the alcohol volatilizes and this is when it gives your nose a little burn as you smell it," says Emily Wines, Master Sommelier at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants.
Chilling the wine a little suppresses the alcohol allowing the wonderful bouquet (aroma) to express itself. "For the lightest styles of reds, serving it much colder is quite delicious. For this I recommend Pinot Noir or Gamay in particular. There are also some wonderful Southern Italian red wines that work well served chilled — in particular Frappato and Cerasuolo di Montepulciano," says Wines. "The wines become really refreshing but have enough bright fruit to remain tasty when chilled."
Go for light-bodied wines. A pale color is usually a good indicator. “Juicy, fruity flavors work better than tannic and savory tastes that get exaggerated when chilled. Also, wines low in alcohol level are a good thirst-quenching drink by their very nature, so the lower the alcohol, the better," says Natalia Krupina, a certified sommelier.
There are a couple of important factors when it comes to the benefits of chilling red wine for summer. Many wine experts agree that by slightly chilling your red wine, you magnify the levels of fruit and voluptuous flavor in your mouth and mid palate.
“Don't get them too cold or you will ruin the taste. Red wine is always best due to the fact there are high levels of antioxidants, which help remove fat from the body and keep you healthy all year round! Chilean Wines, in particular, have the highest level of flavanols and resveratrol, which have been proven to fight cancer and ward off bad cells. Not to mention the quality is phenomenal compared to price," says Alex Guarachi, CEO & Founder of Guarachi Wine Partners. (BBQ parties, here we come!)
Guarachi says a favorite summer pairing would be the Montes Purple Angel (Carmenere) and some sumptuous barbecued lamb chops with summer mint tzaziki and couscous.
In terms of keeping red wine cold for summer drinking, chilling is great, but it is not recommended to do it by putting ice in it. Good wine has a delicate interplay of alcohol, acid, and other chemical elements which create "balance" in a wine — adding ice destroys the balance by reducing acidity, changing the way the wine tastes and feels in the mouth. “Good ones to chill are Beaujolais (from France), Mencia (from Spain), Grignolino and Bonarda (from Italy), and Zweigelt (from Austria)," says Krupina.
As for pairings, observe all the regular pairing suggestions. “Some of my favorite red wine pairings are Zinfandel, Syrah, and Malbec for BBQ, burgers, and kebabs; Pinot Noir and Grenache for veggies, salmon, and chicken; and of course Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot with steaks of all kinds," says Jessyca Frederick of WineClubReviews.
Try these with your next summer barbecue rather than that Chardonnay. You might be surprised!