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 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).
‘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
Best red wines to chill:
The following wines have been tasted by Decanter’s experts.