Summer is the time to enjoy a red wine served at a cooler temperature - but some styles suit it more than others. Follow our eight-point guide for the ones to choose...

At a glance: What characteristics mean that you can drink red wine chilled?

Low or fine tannin | Low to medium alcohol | Look to cooler regions | Light in colour


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Matt Walls’ eight-point guide

  • Cooler regions are typically a safer bet than hot ones. Think Austria, Germany, New Zealand, northern and western France, northern Italy and Sicily, northwest Spain, eastern Europe, coastal Chile and South Africa, as well as cool-climate US and Australia.
  • Winning grape varieties are: Barbera, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Corvina, Dolcetto, Gamay, Grenache, Mencía, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zweigelt and lighter Nebbiolo and Sangiovese styles.

best red to chill

  • It’s the style, however, that is more important than grape or region: go for light- or medium-bodied wines with fresh acidity and discreet, fine tannins.
  • A pale colour is a good indicator – it suggests the wine has undergone a light extraction and it therefore won’t be intensely concentrated.
  • Juicy, fruity flavours work better than savoury notes, so opt for a young wine in preference to an old one.

best reds to chill

  • Reds that have a slightly sweet fruit character can work well, as the impression of sweetness is lessened at cooler temperatures.
  • Avoid heavily oaked wines – oak tannins quickly appear dry and astringent when chilled.
  • Wines with modest alcohol levels tend to be more thirst-quenching by their very nature, so as a rule, the lower the alcohol the better.

Editing for Decanter.com by Ellie Douglas

  • Read our full guide to summer red wines to chill, plus 25 recommendations, in the new issue of the Decanter magazine, on sale now. Subscribe to Decanter here

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