Which wines are the best for warm summer days?

Few things are more refreshing than a perfectly chilled glass of wine on a warm summer day. If you are wondering what the best way is to enjoy wine in high temperatures, here is what you need to know.

white wineFirst of all, don’t limit your wine list. Of course, white wines and rosés are summer options, but they are not the only wines you can enjoy when it’s hot. In fact, a cool red wine is one of the greatest summer treats. People in Mediterranean countries do not stop drinking red wine just because the season is changing! They simply choose a lighter variety, such as a Pinot Noir.

The delicate, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc is a special summer white wine, with its special notes of fruit and rose. Riesling, Santorini white and the Soave Classico, can play the role of the protagonist on a carefree summer day. Much more so when there are seafood delicacies that require their accompaniment. Summer is a great time of the year to try an almost iced bubbly Prosecco or a Pinot Gris. Make sure you return the bottle to the ice bowl or refrigerator every time you finish serving so that it doesn’t lose its proper temperature.rose wine

Rosé wine is also a fantastic choice for summer. Rosé is not only delicious with notes of berries and flowers, but it also looks beautiful in the glass. For example, you could opt for a delicious rosé from Provence from grape varieties like Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon – or a magical rosé Sangiovese from Tuscany.

Do we cool red wine or not?

Some people cool red wine, others don’t. Do we need to or not? The short answer is: it depends. Like most wine-related things, the details and variations abound.

Each type of grape produces wine with a different body and taste and these elements are greatly affected by the serving temperature. Add to this the fact that the development of the same variety of grapes in different locations and conditions will further change the taste profile. So, having an almost endless variety of wines to choose from in different places and different winemakers, you will need to be careful to choose the right wine at the right temperature for complete enjoyment.

Still, there are general rules to follow when it comes to serving and storing red wine. Understanding the basics will also help you figure out when these rules need to be broken.

Tips for selecting your summer red wine

Although the right temperature for storing wine is 13 °C, the general rule for serving reds is that they are at their best at room temperature. This is a great place to start.

If you search a little deeper for the recommended serving temperatures for red and white wine, you will find that each variety has its own ideal temperature. In the colour category, there are subcategories that describe the body of the wine. The body is based on how you feel the wine in your mouth, whether it is heavy and thick or light and thin. This feeling, in turn, is usually related to the alcohol content of the wine. In general, different grape varieties fall into different body categories:

  • Full-bodied red: This category includes Bordeaux, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Shiraz, and wines with an alcohol content of more than 13.5 to 14%.
  • Medium-bodied red: Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Rioja and many blends of these varieties from Spain fall into this category. The alcohol content is usually between 12% and 13.5%.
  • Light-bodied red: Barbera, Beaujolais, Chianti and Pinot Noir are light wines with soft tannins, despite their sometimes dark colour. This group includes reds with an alcohol content of 12% and less.

red wineAlso an important factor that determines the optimum temperature for cooling our red wine to, is the wine tannins: as the temperature decreases, the tannins become tight and bitter, overpowering the other characteristics of the wine, thus ruining the taste and our enjoyment of the wine.

Once you classify your reds into groups according to their body/tannins/alcohol, you have a new rule to remember: the fuller and more tanned the wine, the warmer you will need to serve it.

The right temperature for full reds is really the room temperature, provided you keep your home at around 17 or 18 °C all year round. If that sounds a little cool to you, you’re not alone. Many people prefer indoor temperatures between 20 and 22 °C, which will be significantly warmer than the temperature at which you should drink your wine.

The result? Even a ‘room temperature’ wine can be at its best, a little cooler than you think:

• Full-bodied red: 17 to 19 °C
• Medium-bodied red: 15 to 17 °C
• Light-bodied red: 13 to 15 °C

As you can see, many sommeliers recommend light red to be cooled before serving. These reds are ideally served directly from the cellar or wine fridge.

Cool red wines

The best red wines for cooling:

• Pinot Noir
• Syrah
• Malbec
• Rioja
• Schiava
• Cru Beaujolais
• Lagrein

Remember that the above red wines shouldn’t be aged in order to be smooth in the mouth after chilling.

If you don’t have time to cool your wine before serving it, don’t panic. Just immerse the bottle in ice water for 10 minutes and make sure your glasses are not still hot from washing. You don’t have to freeze your wine too much, because that way it will lose its finest aromatic notes.

I hope I helped you discover new ways to enjoy wine in these wonderful summer days and nights.


Sommeliers recommend light red to be cooled before serving

Christina Kambanella
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