Are you looking for a relaxing wine this summer, but want to steer clear of rosé and are bored of crisp, fresh whites? Chilled red wines could be the answer...

Forget room temperature, sometimes it’s just better to drink red wine chilled.

Lighter styles, such as Beaujolais and lighter Italian reds like classic Valpolicella, can benefit from being lightly chilled – particularly refreshing in the summer months.

  • Scroll down for 25 top red wines for chilling

Sarah Jane Evans MW says, ‘As a rule of thumb, the cheaper/simpler the red wine the more it will benefit from being served cool or chilled.

‘Think of the refreshing rustic reds served straight from the fridge in tumblers in Mediterranean bars.’

Matt Walls said in the July 2017 issue of Decanter magazine ‘For a red wine, much warmer than 18°C is too high; its flavours become blurred and soupy, its structure softens and alcohol becomes more noticeable.

‘Chill it down slightly and flavours come into focus, alcohol becomes less apparent, structure tightens up and the wine is more refreshing to drink.’

How long to chill red wine for

Evans recommends putting a wine in the fridge for half an hour, which will particularly tone down the sensation of soupy warmth in a relatively high alcohol red.

Ideally, chilled red wines are served at a temperature around 13 – 16°C (55 – 60°F).

red wines to chill

Credit: Annabelle Sing/Decanter

‘But chilling emphasises tannin and oak – so be careful to serve a well-structured red only a few degrees cooler than usual,’ says Evans.

Walls agrees ‘Much below 12°C and aromas and flavours become muted, tannins take on an astringent quality and the wine can feel unpleasantly tight.’

Walls’ quick tips for chilling red wines

  • Place the bottle in an ice bucket filled with ice and some water for about 10-15 minutes, but do take regular sips to make sure you’re not overchilling the wine.
  • A cool sleeve, such as the Le Creuset Cooler Sleeve, is less messy. Since most of these can be flattened, they can also be used as a cushion to keep decanters of red wine cool. Alternatively, use a decanter with an ice compartment
  • If your red has been stored at around 20°C, pop it in the fridge for 25-30 minutes; set the timer on your oven or your phone so you don’t forget to remove it
  • If you’re in a hurry, 8-10 minutes in the freezer will suffice, but more gentle methods are preferable
  • Use a plastic or metal wine cooler to keep the temperature low once it’s out of the fridge or freezer, or an ice bucket filled with cool water and ice cubes

Food pairing: Try pairing a lighter red wine with paccheri with tomato sauce or with salmon or pork chops at a barbecue.

Best red wines to chill:

Domaine Georges Descombes, Beaujolais, Morgon, 2015

Domaine Georges Descombes, Beaujolais, Morgon, 2015

A beautifully pastoral wine from a stalwart of minimal intervention Beaujolais – joyful, but far from frivolous. Fleshy, textured black cherry and aromatic turned earth flow from this natural and effortless expression of Morgon.

Points 93

El Viejo Almacén, Huaso de Sauzal País, Maule Valley, 2014

Renán Cancino rejects modern technology while turning his ancient, granite-grown País into a profoundly delicious wine. His lo-fi approach creates an aromatically wild wine with a tight, crystalline, saline finish. For thrill-seekers rather than purists.

Points 93

Cossetti, Grignolino d'Asti, Piedmont, Italy, 2015

Cherry in colour and flavour, this is a pale, fine-boned, mineral Grignolino. Light-bodied, with fine yet structured tannins, it's bright, vivid and perfectly balanced; as if drawn in red ink with a pin-point fountain pen.

Points 91

Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois, Beaujolais, Chiroubles,

The highest of the 10 Beaujolais crus, Chiroubles can be light, but not this exceptional 2015. Generously fruited, but not over-extracted, this is refined and beautifully proportioned. Fresh and perfectly balanced, pure silk. Great value.

Points 91

Envínate, Táganan Tinto, Tenerife, Spain, 2014

A blend of esoteric local varieties grown on volcanic soils overlooking the Atlantic on Tenerife. Crunchy, spicy cranberry fruit and a tactile textural grain makes this sublimely drinkable and refreshing.

Points 91

Vino di Anna, Etna, Palmento, Sicily, Italy, 2015

Closer to rosé than red, slightly cloudy. Made from 60 to 100 year old Nerello Mascalese bush vines grown on Mount Etna. Dangerously drinkable with vibrant acidity and a fine mineral streak, sketched out with great flair.

Points 91

Elvio Cogno, Dolcetto d'Alba, Vigna del Mandorlo, 2015

Agreeably strict tannins help rein in the dark, fleshy fruits here; bramble and black cherry with liquorice and violets. Finishes dry and precise. A very drinkable, well-made Dolcetto – buttoned up and tucked in.

Points 90
Te Mata, Estate Syrah, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, 2015

Te Mata, Estate Syrah, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, 2015

Medium-bodied Syrah, with the flowing silky red fruits indicative of its Bridge Pa and Woodthorpe origins. Aromas of violet, peony, raspberry, cranberry, sandalwood and star anise. Not terribly long, but expressive, vivid and detailed.

Points 90
Ailala, Souson, Ribeiro, Mainland Spain, Spain, 2015

Ailala, Souson, Ribeiro, Mainland Spain, Spain, 2015

Based around the local Souson grape, this is deeply coloured with figgy fruits and fairly dense texture. It's relatively full-bodied for chilling, but it works thanks to the snappy acidity, clarity of plum and blueberry flavour and crunchy tannin.

Points 89

Gaia, Notios, Peloponnese, Greece, 2015

A winning blend of 85% Agiorgitiko and 15% Syrah from unirrigated hillside vineyards. It has a smooth mouthfeel leading to a tapered finish, overlaid with blackberry and blackcurrant leaf aromas. Straight, grippy, harmonious and well-crafted.

Points 89
Radford Dale, Thirst Cinsault, Stellenbosch, 2016

Radford Dale, Thirst Cinsault, Stellenbosch, 2016

Between a red and a rosé, this Stellenbosch Cinsault is made by carbonic maceration, producing a light, floral, peppery cranberry aroma, lightweight tannic chassis and just 10% alcohol. A real thirst-quencher.

Points 89

Collavini, Colli Orientali, Pucino Refosco, 2015

Refosco is a good option for light chilling thanks to its brightness of fruit teamed with tangy acidity. This has bright black cherry and plum fruit and finishes with a cleansing tannic draw.

Points 88

Planeta, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily, Italy, 2015

Herbal cherry and pomegranate aromas, discreet fine tannins and a slap of fruity acidity make this Nero d’Avola/Frappato blend a great option for chilled summer drinking. Uplifting and refreshing.

Points 88

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