Red Wines to Chill (with)

Published by Marie-Lou Galiana on 23/08/2019

Can you chill red wines? What type of red wines are best if you want to serve them cold? Digital Trainee Marie-lou Galiana heats up the debate.

Why Chill a Red Wine?

It’s the end of the summer, you’re all “rosé-d out” and thinking about how nice a bottle of red sounds. But it’s still quite warm and you love a chilled drink.

Chill your red! Some of you might think of it as blasphemy. It’s not. It actually is quite nice, providing you respect a few basic rules.

Which red wines can you chill?

Let’s get something straight first. When talking about “chilling a red” we don’t mean drinking it ice cold like you might with a rosé, we mean slightly chilled - as in 20 minutes in the fridge is probably enough. The ideal serving temperature would vary between 12 - 14 degrees.

Then it’s all about the acidity and fruit concentration of the wine. You want to look for wines that have high acidity and low tannins, so think about light grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Gamay from Burgundy. Of course, you can branch out a little and try chilling other light wines like northern Italian reds, and many German and Austrian reds also work beautifully.

Chilling a red wine will basically emphasize the fruity, juicy character of the wine and make it a much fresher style that can easily rival a nice bottle of rosé on a hot day.

Less common grape varieties that are great chilled:

If you’d like to venture even further off the beaten track, there are also some lesser-known varieties that can be enjoyed chilled such as Zweigelt, one of the native grapes from Austria. Or have you heard of Counoise? This is a great one to try chilled. It is one of the authorised varieties to use in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and has light tannins and body, yet holds bright fruits and freshness.

What about fuller bodied red wines then, you might ask? Well, worry not, that can also work. There are a couple of rules though: cold temperature heightens the fruits present in the wine but also the tannins, so make sure you pick a wine that’s full but has low tannins like a juicy Malbec or a lower-alcohol Zinfandel.

If really there is nothing you’d rather drink than a big Bordeaux or Californian Cabernet, then stick them in the fridge for 15min or so and that will bring out the fruit character without emphasising the tannins too much.

Food pairing suggestions for chilled reds:

As it turns out, light red varieties are incredibly versatile and therefore great food pairing wines… See below for a few dishes that work really well with chilled reds.


Happy chilling!

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Marie-Lou Galiana

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