Chilled red wine may not be historically ‘a thing’ for us Brits, however it is how our French cousins do it when the summer hits, and if there’s anything the French do best – its wine. A crisp white isn’t for everyone, so in scorching heat it’s often the norm to reach for a delicious glass of rosé – it’s certainly a winning plan, but it needn’t be the only one. Light bodied reds when chilled can be a delight, they have lower tannins, lower alcohol content and less bulk than a meaty red, but equally have more bite and depth of flavour than you might get from a rosé, in fact I’d be so bold as to say some reds even taste better a little chilled.
You don’t need to overdo it, a couple of hours in the fridge is perfect, and you’ll find you can happily quaff your red with steak from the BBQ just as you like it.
Chilling down doesn’t suit all reds so if you’re keen to get in on the trend then try it out with any of the styles below…
Generally the lightest of the lot – there are several different Lambrusco grapes that are grown in the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy. Secco means dry so this style will show hints of bitterness and sour cherries along with the berry flavours, with a nice frothy fizz that makes it the perfect aperitif.
Earthy and berry heavy wines made with the Gamay grape in the Beaujolais region – just south of Burgundy and west of Lyon, an area dripping with wine and gastronomy ties. These wines are generally no-frills light and easy drinking reds that are made to be drunk super young (within a year or two of bottling). The ‘Noveau’ style is zippy and juicy whilst the Cru is a little more serious.
A hybrid grape coming from Austria, Zweigelt is perhaps a lesser known but perfectly thirst-quenching light red. It has complex flavours and a lot of depth, but without taking itself too seriously, perfect for chilling down and sipping away on a summer evening.
Considered the benchmark for light red wines – Pinot Noir is the most widely grown grape variety and is produced the world over. Although it may vary in flavour profile depending on the region (from earthy and bitter cranberry through to black berries) it is always aromatic, layered and ages well.
The heaviest on our list, opt for this one if you’re usually into big reds. Flavours of savoury cherry and pepper, wines from this grape are mostly produced in the southern half of France (look for Loire Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône) and offer a bit more body than the rest but are still light enough to sit well in the heat.