Three of the best summery red wines to chill

Three of the best summery red wines to chill

Bearing in mind that it has been in the twenties indoors recently, room-temperature red wine on a searing summer’s day is a calamity! You can lose a lot of the wine’s character since the fruit will be muted, the alcohol will stick out and the wine will taste soupy. A short dunk in the ice bucket or an hour-long stopover in the fridge – we’re not talking freezing temperatures but rather cooling to around 13°C or 14°C – on a hot day will make the wine taste livelier and fresher.

The following summery ice-bucket-friendly reds make great alternatives to rosés and whites and tick the same boxes. As a general rule stick to youthful unoaked/sensitively oaked reds – up to three years of age – that have relatively low levels of tannins/thin skins, light to medium body and which are driven by primary fruits and fresh acidity. Feel the thrill of the chill…



1. Taste bud-tingling, melt-in-the-mouth, fresh, uplifting red from the coolest/highest altitude Beaujolais ‘Cru’

Chiroubles Beaujolais Cru 2020, France (£10, Co-op, 13.5%)

It’s tough to think of a more textbook summer red than Beaujolais. Just south of Burgundy, you’ll find decomposing old pink granite soils that make superior red wines from delectable Gamay. The finest wines come from the ten famous villages or ‘Crus’ (equivalent to Club Class) that make wines with an arresting similarity to red Burgundy, but at a much more favourable price. Located in the hills above Fleurie, Chiroubles lies at the highest altitude of the Beaujolais Crus and makes zingy, perfumed, deliciously delicate red wines. This cracking silky-smooth, fragrant, sapid, mouth-filling Chiroubles has characteristically low tannins, mouth-watering acidity, excellent texture and plenty of sappy, tangy and racy red fruits (think cherries, plums and raspberries), crushed-grape flavours, plus a whiff of violets. Serve it frais, or cool, as the French do. Perhaps with simple everyday alfresco suppers or – at the weekend – just-seared tuna steaks, coq au vin and barbecued meats? ‘Gulpable’ is the word.


2. Seductive low tannin red from Sicily – a much-deserved Wine Society ‘Champion’

Frappato, Terre Siciliane IGT, Mandrarossa 2021, Sicily, Italy (£10.50, The Wine Society, 13%)

Don’t dillydally, this is your chirpy, chillable red summer wine sorted! If you like Beaujolais, you’ll love this. Thin-skinned Frappato produces charming fresh and floral low-tannin reds that can be served faintly chilled. They put me in mind of decent Beaujolais as regards mouthfeel and taste. This recently crowned Wine Society ‘Champion’ (the award-winning buying team blind-tasted more than 900 wines to highlight those that all the buyers “agreed tasted particularly good at that moment and were an ideal choice in the coming months”) is beautifully floral with a satiny texture and has waves of tangy pomegranate and red fruit flavours. The pretty juiciness on the palate will encourage you to pour a second lightly-chilled glass. This is a wine that sings! It’s an exceedingly chillable medium-plus-bodied package and the perfect foil for meaty fish such as rare tuna, swordfish and grilled salmon. Try it also with salads and summery pasta dishes such as pasta con le sarde (Sicily on a plate). Sassy, quaffable, easy drinking. Best enjoyed cool rather than fridge-cold. Go out of your way to get this “Champ” whilst stocks last. If you’re not already a Wine Society member join – it’s a one-off membership fee of £40 with no obligation to buy and £20 off the first order. Makes a delicious gift.


3. Strikingly spry red from the cool, damp region of Bierzo in northwest Spain

 CVNE Virgen del Galir Maruxa Mencía 2019, Valdeorras, Galicia, Spain (£10.99-£12.99, Majestic, Waitrose, House of Malt, 13.5%)

Also known as Jaen over the border in nearby Portugal, Spain’s Mencía is having a moment. It’s an idiosyncratic black grape variety that can make vibrant, refreshing, fruity-earthy reds in cool, damp – and now very trendy – northwestern Spain. This unoaked, medium-bodied, mineral and crunchy red berry fruit-stashed 2019 from remote, mountainous – the warmest, easternmost wine zone of Galicia, which was so named in Roman times due to the gold found in its valleys – gets my thumbs-up. Fruit is sourced from low-yielding, steeply terraced schistous vineyards, from plots in the Galir and Bibei river valleys. Pour it lightly chilled on sunny days around the barbecue and with roast duck, slow-roast shoulder of pork or roast cod/duck with lentils. One for Beaujolais devotees.


Follow James on Twitter: @QuixoticWine


  • Summer reds should be served at around 10°C-16°C. If it’s warm give them a 20–30-minute sojourn in the fridge
  • Other fresh (habitually paler) reds that love a dip in the ice bucket include entry-level wines made from Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Corvina (Valpolicella blends), Dolcetto, Gamay, Grenache, Nerello Mascalese, País, Pinot Noir, Schiava and Zweigelt
  • If you are pushed for time around 10 minutes in the freezer should avail. You can then deploy the ice bucket too afterwards. Chiller sleeves can be a good alternative
  • Full-bodied, tannic reds such as Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are frequently served far too warm. Never serve them much above 16-18°C. Don’t overchill these more tannic reds since the tannins will stand out and become too grippy

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