The temperatures are starting to warm up and the sun is gracing us with its presence more and more (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) which can mean only one thing…summer is on its way!
Usually summer means it’s time to break out the refreshing white wines and Instagram worthy rosés, but I want to introduce you to another style of wine that is perfect for summer - chillable red wines!
Read on to learn what exactly a chillable red wine is along with some recommendations if you want to give them a try.
What is a Chillable Red Wine?
Now, I’m sure we all know that most red wines should not be served at room temperature, but what we call “cellar temperature” (about 55 - 62 degrees F).
Here are eight of my favorite chillable red wines perfect for summer!
The OG chillable red, I feel like Gamay is the most popular of this category (and easiest to find). Originally from the Beaujolais region in France (just South of Burgundy), Gamay is now grown across the world from Australia to California.
In a great Gamay you can expect a mix of fruity, floral, and earthy aromas such as pomegranate, raspberry, violet, potting soil, and cherry blossoms. In terms of structure, Gamay is typically light bodied with high acidity (surprise, surprise) with low alcohol and hardly any tannins.
If you’re pairing this wine with food, you don’t have to try that hard. Gamay pairs well with just about anything from grilled salmon to beef stir fry.
When it comes to food pairings, this wine is perfect for enjoying alongside a charcuterie board as it pairs wonderfully with cured meats.
When I think of chillable reds, I immediately think of two Austrian red wines, Blaufrankisch being one of them (the other is Zweigelt if you must ask). While its origins are a little muddy…some say Germany (where it may also be called Lemberger), others say Slovenia or Austria…it is clear that this grape has made a home for itself in Austria.
A parent of Gamay, Blaufrankisch shares its offspring’s boisterously high acidity. Where it differs though, is flavor! In terms of aroma, be prepared for a lot of black pepper along with blackberries, black cherries, allspice and a green, earthy note. This wine will be light to medium in body with medium tannins and medium alcohol.
When pairing with food, look to the area of origin for inspiration; think smoked sausage, goulash, and spaetzle noodle dishes.
Here’s a wine you’ve likely heard of before! A parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is originally from France (where it’s still particularly popular in the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions) but now grows in countries all across the world: Italy, United States, Hungary, Chile, and South Africa to name a few.
There’s a good chance you’ve had Cinsault without even knowing it. This grape is a minor blending grape in both Southern Rhône Valley reds and Provence rosés. Cinsault is another variety that got its start in France but has now traveled across the world to places like Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia.
On its own, Cinsault produces wines with aromas of bright red fruit (raspberry, tart cherry, cranberry), roses, and herbaceous/spice notes that will make you think of your favorite black tea. This wine has the true chillable red structure with a light body, high acidity and barely-there tannins.
Due to the low tannins and high acidity, this wine can pair well with just about anything but I highly recommend giving it a try with lightly spiced curry.
Did someone ask for the ultimate pizza wine on a budget? Barbera is one of my favorite Italian wines, both for the flavor and the price! A featured wine in this month’s Cork Crew Tasting Club, Barbera comes from the Piedmont region in Northwestern Italy where it grows alongside its more famous (and expensive) cousin, Nebbiolo.
In my opinion, Barbera is the perfect combination of flavors with some fruity notes (blackberry, bright cherry), some herbal notes (tarragon, anise) and even some spice notes (black pepper). Its incredibly high acidity matched with little to no tannin and a medium body makes it a great chillable red wine candidate.
As I mentioned before, it's the ultimate pizza wine. Need I say more?
From the volcanic island of Sicily, comes this insanely delicious Italian red wine.
Which chillable red wine will you be trying first this summer?
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