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Lighter wines for summer under £20: The reds

Peter Richards MW tasted 280 wines to pick the best for lighter summer drinking. In part one of the results are his top reds, all 12.5% alcohol or less, and priced at under £20 – perfect choices to enjoy during the warmer days and evenings.

Summer drinking isn’t all about chilled whites and rosés, there’s room for red wines in the mix (and – briefly – in the ice bucket) too.

Peter Richards MW road tested more than 280 wines in search of his final cut of 78 lighter summer wines, and in this run down he selected 18 reds. The usual suspects are there with Pinot Noir and Valpolicella featuring heavily, but there’s also room for Cabernet Franc, Agiorgitiko and Mondeuse in his selection.

‘Wines that aren’t too high in alcohol are important in this context,’ says Ricahrds. ‘Affordability also counts, so you can properly enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. That’s why we specified a price range of £8-£20 (US$10-$25) and a maximum alcohol level of 12.5% on the label for this tasting.’

‘Did this make it harder for the reds to shine? Perhaps – though there’s surely no shortage these days of easygoing reds majoring on lower alcohol and fresh flavours.’

Top tips for summer serving

Good summer reds should be served at 10°C-16°C (50°F-60°F). That’s significantly cooler than many a summer’s day, so don’t be afraid to
pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving if the weather’s warm.

For rapid cooling, submerging a bottle in a mixture of smashed ice and water is best. One alternative to ice cubes is to freeze a few whole grapes,
then you can pop those in your wine glass without fear of dilution.

Be wary of dehydration when it’s warm – drink lots of water, and ideally eat food with a high water content too.

When considering which summer red to go for it’s worth sparing a thought for what food you might be serving it with. ‘The food we eat changes in summer: we prioritise simpler, fresher flavours,’ says Richards. ‘The wines that make a cheery partner for those foods naturally share the same kind of character: keen, crunchy, forthright.’

While it may be roasting in parts of the UK and Europe at the moment, summer isn’t all about blazing sun and beaches. ‘Sometimes it’s miserable… so there’s also a place for wines to warm the cockles and comfort the soul.’

Peter Richards’ top lighter red wines for summer

See also:

Best summer reds to drink chilled

Lower alcohol wines for summer

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