Ah… Room temperature. That magical number at which you’re supposed to serve red wines. While generally meant to describe the range from 15°C to 18°C -in which most reds will be at their best- it is often permitted a margin of error so forgiving that you’ll find bottles at ambient on days in which chocolate melts just by being outdoors.
But try asking your friendly neighbourhood waiter for a bottle of rouge in an ice bucket... you might as well stand on a chair shouting about your favourite conspiracy theory while you order a tin foil hat. But you’re not insane (if you like chilled red wine, that is), as there are times in which these wines will benefit from a bit of refreshing and in fact, some reds are more enjoyable chilled, not just on a hot day.
Chilled red wine: What styles work best?
Young wines with moderate or high acidity. The reason for that is that the aromas of wine don’t “fly” so well at cooler temperatures, so rich and intense reds with loads of complexity will suffer and loose their intricate bouquets while sharper, fruitier reds will feel vibrant and refreshing.
Some red varieties that tend to fit this profile include Gamay, Beaujolais’ grape of choice; Grenache -Southern Rhone and Spain do it well!- and Pinot Noir. On this last one, we are not suggesting you pop into the fridge that €50 Burgundy; but a young, entry or mid-level bottle of Pinot Noir will be a berrific treat a few degrees lower than usual.
Here’s a selection of red wines that you will love chilled. Try refrigerating them for half an hour before serving and you’ll see how cool they get!
Cruz de Piedra Garnacha 2015
14% ABV – Grenache – Spain
€13.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
Pure fruit both on the nose and the palate, this lean red shares moderate tannins and the tart acidity that young Grenache is known for.
Old vines and cool fermentation translate into concentrated, ripe and very pure red fruit flavours.
De Bortoli La Bohème Act Four 2016
14% ABV – Syrah Gamay – Australia
€19.50 – Available at Egan’s Wines and Wineonline.ie
The fruitiness of Gamay is enhanced by the pleasant spiciness of Syrah on this unusual blend of two grapes that rarely hang out together.
Ripe cherries, cinnamon and and velvety, lean body.
Jean-Paul Brun Cote de Brouilly 2014
12.5% ABV – Gamay – Beaujolais, Fance
€21.85 (on offer from €23.50) – Available at Wines Direct
This light and mouth-watering Beaujolais offers a sharp and refreshing palate with a high acidity, a slightly steely mineral touch and minimal tannins.
Its flavours will remind you of cranberry juice and sour cherries.
Zweigelt, St. Laurent – Burgenland, Austria
€16.50 – Available at Baggot Street Wines
This Austrian blend combines the mellow fruitiness of local specialties Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch with plump and juicy Merlot for a wine that brings juicy plums, casis and black cherries to your palate.
If you like Beaujolais but wish it had more punch, this is definitively one to explore!
Ca Di Alte Pinot Nero
12.5% ABV – Pinot Noir – Italy
€13.25 – Available at Mitchell and Son
Grapes grown on hillsides in the north of Italy benefit from the cool climate that Pinot Noir, or should we say, Pinot Nero, needs to thrive. A brief stay in oak gives the wine a subtle toasted note.
Delicate, slightly chalky and with generous ripe red cherry aromas and flavours.
The Fire Tree Nero D’Avola
14.5% ABV – Nero D’Avola – Sicily, Italy
€6.99 – Available at Aldi
The volcanic soils surrounding Mount Etna feed this Sicilian with mineral character while the appassimento method imbues them with the extra sugar of partially dried grapes.
A bittersweet combination of blackberries and licorice, at a very affordable price.
Kreydenweiss Pinot Noir
12.5% ABV – Alcase, France
€21.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
While most known for its aromatic whites, Alsace has a small red wine production and Pinot Noir is the grape of choice. This light and elegant example is made following biodynamic principles and has no added sulfites.
Fruity and earthy, think foraging for cherries on a summer morning.
Cepa Lebrel Rioja Joven
13% ABV – Rioja, Spain
€6.99 – Available at Lidl
Unlike Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, Rioja Joven gets no ageing so the result is pure bright fruit. Moderate acidity and low tannins, it’s like having acherries and strawberries dancing on your palate.
Smooth and simple, one that you can grab and chill or perhaps transform into a juicy sangria.
13% ABV – Beujolais, France
€15.95 (on offer from €18.95) – Available at O’Briens Wine
Mellow among the mellow, Fleurie is regarded as one of the most delicate Beaujolais crus. Granite rich soils give it a mineral edge. Low tannins and flavours of strawberries, red cherries and raspberries.
A floral touch completes its demure character, if it was a movie, it’d be a musical, not an action film.
Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva
13.5% ABV – Leyda Valey, Chile
€11.95 (on offer from 15.95) – Available at O’Briens Wine
Chile’s cool Leyda Valley is making a name for itself as a land for modern and consistent Pinot Noir. This Reserva has to be one of the best Pinot Noir under €15 available in Ireland.
Intense, refreshing, with a light body and peaceful tannins, it’s cherries meet violets with a little bit of sweet spice.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.