The debate about chilling red wine has been going on for many years, it is almost impossible to get through spring and summer without someone bringing it up. Even though it may seem like a sin breaking the age old tradition of cold whites and warm reds, drinking chilled red wine can be a great and refreshing way to explore these wines into the summer months. Even though the process is as simple as putting a bottle on ice and calling it a day, there are a few helpful tips that an make drinking chilled red wine even better!
You may be asking- why even chill red wines? For the most simple reason: chilled wines are refreshing, especially in the blazing heat! This is the exact same reason that iced coffee and tea exists, it doesn’t feel right drinking a hot beverage when it is blistering hot outside, just like it isn’t refreshing drinking warm wine in heat. Another good thing to chilling red wines is that it brings out a wine’s acidity and heightens fruity, fresh aromas.
Chilled red wine does truly mean “chilled”, and not cold; there’s actually a difference between a cooler wine and an ice-cold wine. This isn’t just for red wine either, it goes for all wines. When a wine is at fridge temperature, it can actually be too cold, it subdues the aromas and flavors and basically strips a wine of all its character. A good guide to temperature is 50-55 degrees, or for an easier guide, take the wine out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving or put it in the fridge 45 minutes before serving. If you need it ready any sooner, a bucket of ice water for 6-7 minutes will make the wine good to go.
So which wines are best chilled? The best way to determine is the structure of the wine. Light-bodied, low-tannin, acid-driven wines are the best reds to chill. Fruity wines are also great to chill because the colder temperature makes the flavors pop, but the more earthy wines can be interesting when chilled as well. The most commonly chilled red wines are Pinot Noir and Gamay from Beaujolais, but wines like Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, Zweigelt from Austria and Barbera from Piedmont can also be amazingly delicious when chilled.
You may be thinking if you’re a lover of full-bodied wines, are you not allowed to chill your favorite wines? Is it a good idea to fully chill full-bodied reds? Of course, it is! It may be common to chill light reds, but full-bodied wines can also be just as good when chilled. The cold temperature can heighten the structure of the wine, although wines with a high level of tannin can come unpleasant so it is best to look for full-bodied wines with less tannin and more fruit, such as Malbec and Zinfandel. With reds, it is definitely not advisable to drink them straight out of an ice bucket, but more chilled in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving. The light chills will then make the flavor pop without heightening the unpleasant tannins.
The basic thing to remember is that chilled reds are a thing, it just depends on the wine, how chilled you make them.