Chilled Red is the New Rosé
Ah, summer. Hot days followed by warm evenings of eating al fresco and listening to the sounds of your neighborhood doing the same. All that's missing is a big glass of cold red wine!
*record scratch* Whaaaat?
I know this sounds a little crazy. Chilled red? I must really like wines with harsh tannins and lackluster fruit, right? I had similar thoughts when I first heard of serving red wines this way, but once I researched it a little, it totally makes sense. It's not all reds - when full-bodied and tannic red wines are served at a temperature below 59 degrees, the tannins become very astringent and the fruit flavors are muted, at least until the wine warms up naturally. So, you definitely don't want to throw your Cabernet Sauvignon in the fridge or you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, stick to reds that are lighter bodied with mild tannins.
I really do enjoy a good rosé, but I want to shake things up a little this summer, so I'm excited to dive into something that's been right under my nose this whole time. I've selected a few wines to try chilled because why
drink write about one when you can drink write about three? The ideal temperature for a chilled red wine is 55 degrees, so I put these bottles in the white wine section of my wine fridge. If you don't have a wine fridge at home, you can certainly stick a bottle in your kitchen refrigerator for about 30 minutes before opening.
I'll start with Valpolicella, which is a wine from Northeast Italy. It's made with a blend of three grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara and it's a light bodied wine with fresh fruity flavors and mild tannins. Pretty much a textbook example of a red wine to serve chilled. I chose La Formica Valpolicella 2015 and it showed fresh red berry notes of strawberry, black cherry, and raspberry. It had an herby quality to it as well with notes of eucalyptus and mint. The tannins and body hovered right around the medium level and it had lots of acidity. It will pair great with salty meats and chicken. As it warmed in my glass I realized that I greatly preferred this wine when it was cooler. There's something to this chilled red thing. I get it and I dig it!
Next on the docket is a Beaujolais, which is right next to the Burgundy region of France and is sometimes considered an extension of it. Wines from this region are made with the Gamay grape which produces wines with lots of bright red berry flavors that are light in body and tannins. The vinification technique (carbonic maceration if you're nasty) for some Beaujolais makes them even fruitier and lighter in tannins, so a wine from this region is another classic example of a red wine that will shine at lower temperatures. When I'm buying Beaujolais, I like to look for one of the crus, which are villages that have a distinct character within the region. My personal favorites are Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon. They err more toward full bodied compared to the other crus, but I took a risk and grabbed a bottle of Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py 2015 for this post. It actually ended up being the most tannic of the three wines that I tried and probably a little too full bodied if I'm being honest. Despite the body and tannins, the fresh berry flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry were highlighted by the cool blast. The wine had nice cinnamon and nutmeg notes as well and was really delicious. As far as food, this is your steak wine!
This last wine was my favorite of the three and the one that surprised me the most. It's a La Varenne Chinon Tradition 2012, which is a wine from the Loire Valley of France and it's made with 100% Cabernet Franc. This grape produces fragrant wines that are light in body and tannin compared to its Bordeaux counterpart: Cabernet Sauvignon. Chilling this wine was an absolute game changer because it showed brilliantly once it was cool. It had ample dark fruits: black cherry, plum, and blackberry, balanced with anise and tobacco, all nicely complemented by a fantastic smokiness. The wine had soft tannins, a high acidity, and a medium body. This will pair great with smoked pork and meats that are slathered in bbq sauce. I'm totally smitten with this wine and will be getting this again, year-round!
This was a humbling experience because I truly feel like an amateur; I don't know why it took me this long to actually try the recommended serving temperatures for reds. I'm sure I memorized it while studying for the WSET exam, but it must have evaporated from my mind once I put the pencil down a couple years ago! Anyhow, you have to pick up a bottle (or three) and try this for yourself. I have a feeling that you'll be reaching for a red instead of a rosé this summer!