Red wine at room temp, white wine and rosé in the fridge - that's the 'rule' that most people feel the need to stick to. But we reckon rules are for breaking, and with a scorching summer ahead of us, who really fancies sipping on a tepid glass in the sun?
Whilst you probably don't want to chill your poshest aged red, there are plenty of summer red wines that actually benefit from time in the fridge. We're going to take you through the best kinds of red wines to chill, our top tips and our personal favourites. Plus, we'll touch on barbecue flavour pairing. Let's get stuck in.
What red wine can be chilled?
We're not in the business of setting hard and fast rules for wine; you can chill any wine you want to if you fancy it cold. But generally speaking, the best red wines for chilling are lighter styles of wine, with bright fruit flavours, high acidity and low levels of tannins. These wines are likely to be cheaper, lighter in colour and may be described as 'easy drinking'.
Why is this? It's because when wines are chilled, your palate focuses more on the acidity of the wine, which makes it feel refreshing. A light chill brings the best out of fruity, acidic wines. However, cooling wine also emphasises tannins and oak flavours - so a full-bodied, complex, tannin-heavy wine will become bitter and astringent.
This is also why white wines and rosés want to be cooler than reds - because they're more acidic, with less complex flavours and fewer tannins.
Red wine styles to look for: Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Gamay, Frappato or Dolcetto.
Terms to look for: light body, fruity, red berries, red cherries, black cherry, soft tannins
Avoid: full-bodied reds, high-alcohol red and emphasis on oak flavours
Should you ever chill a full-bodied red wine?
The answer is yes! Just don't take it too far. For complex, full-bodied reds, serving them too warm can result in soupy, overly alcoholic flavours. If it's a hot day and 'room temperature' goes above about 18°C, consider chilling down your wine slightly before serving. 20-30 minutes in the fridge should do it.
How long to chill red wine for
Whereas white or rosé wines can be cooled in the fridge for 2-3 hours, you don't want to over-chill a red wine. You're aiming for your wine to be served cool, not ice cold. Summer reds should be served at 10°C-16°C - so put your wine in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, depending on how light-bodied it is. If it tastes dull when you take it out, let it warm up for a while before serving.
Tips for chilling red wines fast
The wet paper towel method
If you don't have long to cool your red wine before dinner (or you're just desperate for a glass) here's a quick way to chill it. Wet a paper towel, squeeze it out and wrap it around the bottle. Then, put the bottle in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Before serving, turn the bottle upside-down a couple of times to even out the temperature.
The ice bucket method
Having a bucket of ice at the table lets you chill your red wine quickly - it only takes 10-15 minutes - and then re-dunk it if it gets too warm. If you're drinking a bottle at a restaurant and think you'd prefer it chilled, ask for a bucket of ice (even if the sommelier gives you a dirty look).
The ice cube method
No, the wine world isn't going to come hammering on your door if you put ice cubes in your Pinot Noirs (or any other wines, for that matter). In fact, some experts are endorsing this easy method. Just bear in mind that your wine will quickly become diluted - so drink up!
Should you use a wine cooler for red wine?
Any wine served chilled wants to be maintained at the right temperature with a wine cooler - and the same goes for red wine. Any type of wine cooler will work, or a bucket of ice and/or cold water will do the trick too.
What chilled red wine is best for barbecues?
A festival of rich grilled meats should, in theory, pair best with a full-bodied red. However, we're of the opinion that lighter chilled reds provide a barbie with more summery vibes. It's a nice, refreshing contrast to the heavy meat, whilst still complementing the flavours.
Our top picks for barbecue wines are Pinot Noir (light to medium-bodied), Barbera and Beaujolais. These are all exceptionally food-friendly, benefit from a light chill and can stand up to robust barbecue flavours. Cheers!
Our favourite summer red wines
Here at The Secret Vine, we love showcasing the more obscure wines and hidden gems. Our team of wine lovers don't put down the reds during the summer months - here are our favourite summer red wines we think are even better served chilled.
Serve at: 16°C
Not your typical Italian red, Rosso Arcaico is known as a 'winemaker's red': this is because wines from the Lazio region of Italy are typically white. But to simply brush past this light, fruity red wine would be remiss. Fantastically made and expertly balanced, the notes of red fruit in this wine give it a delicious finish.
Serve at: 16°C
This wine is smoooooooth - in fact, this Stanlake Park Grand Reserve is so enjoyable, you'll wake up the next day still thinking about how good this wine is. It's fruity, elegant and dry, with a delicate bouquet of ripe black cherry, blackberry and Mediterranean herbs.
Serve at: 16°C
This single estate Pinot Noir is light-bodied, with aromas of ripe cherries and blackcurrant and a smooth earthy finish. So smooth, we even put Barry White on to listen to while enjoying this lovely little Pinot Noir from Shotley. Beautifully balanced.
Want to discover more unusual and delicious wines, curated by a team passionate about removing snobbery from the wine world? Explore The Secret Vine today.