Why You Should Be Drinking Your Red Wines Chilled, According to Experts

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Victoria Moore is an award-winning wine columnist and author. Her new book, The Wine Dine Dictionary (£20, Granta), is out now.


3. Frappato

This summer red is just as Italian as it sounds. Produced mainly in Sicily, Frappato’s low tannins, light body, and refreshing red fruit characters make it a great summer wine. 

Plus, it pairs well with roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. Can you picture the summer bruschetta and hummus spread as well as we can? 

Should you ever chill a full-bodied red wine before serving?

The short answer is yes, sometimes. Have you ever been served a red wine too warm? It can easily happen, especially in hotter climates.

Even for full bodied reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, it’s important to stop the wine getting too warm before serving.

‘For a red wine, much warmer than 18°C is too high,’ said Walls. ‘Its flavours become blurred and soupy, its structure softens and alcohol becomes more noticeable.

‘Chill it down slightly and flavours come into focus, alcohol becomes less apparent, structure tightens up and the wine is more refreshing to drink.’

Why Drink Chilled Red Wine?

For those who live in countries with warm climates, drinking a room temperature wine won’t always cut it. In fact, al fresco lunches and summer picnics call out for a chilled drink to cool you down. This is why plenty of warm climate countries, like Greece or Spain, chill their reds and pop ice cubes in their glasses. 

After all, while we love all types of wine from Prosecco to Port, some wine lovers only have eyes for red wine, and a chilled glass of bubbly just won’t hit the spot. By finding the perfect red wine to chill and enjoy on a warm evening, red wine lovers don’t have to miss out.

While serving certain wines too cold can mute their flavors and dull some of the complexity of the wine, others are simply perfect as a refreshingly chilly beverage.

3. Pinot Noir

Flickr: jimfischer / Creative Commons Though some people first heard about it in Sideways, Pinot Noir is one of the world’s most revered wine grapes. It’s the basis of the red wines of Burgundy — one of France’s most iconic regions — and it’s planted lots of other places, including New Zealand, California, and Oregon. It’s lighter bodied and produces famously complex and delicious wines.

Other ways to chill red wine fast 

If your dinner guests are en route and you’ve forgotten to toss your favorite Bright Cellars Pinot Noir in the fridge, there’s no need to worry. We’re pros at combating those wine woes! Check out these 5 foolproof ways to chill wine fast

Full-Bodied White Wine

White bordeaux, pouilly-fuisse, viognier, oaked chardonnay and chenin blanc are just a few of the whites that exude a buttery taste. The more full-bodied, the more buttery. Fruit and nuts are prominent, and the right chill brings out the flavors and complexity of the wine. A wine that has been oaked, especially in French oak, has rich textures and deeply aromatic flavors, making the right chill an important component to the taste.

A light chill of between 50 and 55 degrees allows the fruit taste to emerge. Higher temperatures give the wine a thicker, syrupy taste, and a cooler chill hides the flavors and brings out the acid.

White Wine

White wine such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and other lighter colored white wines should be served between 7-12°C , chilling it at least 1 and a half hours before serving. By chilling white wines it helps maintain the acidity as well as its fresh and crisp flavor. Chardonnay, on the other hand, considered more full-bodied in flavor, does not need to be served as cold as the other white wines on this list. Simply chill for an hour before serving to maintain the bold and fruity flavor. 

Does chilling red wine ruin it?

You should allow them to warm up before serving — and avoid chilling them until they’re icy. That kills flavor and can damage the wine. In fact, if you can, you should never buy wines that have been stored in a wine shop cooler.

How to Best Chill Your Red Wine

While a sommelier may advise you to make use of your wine cellar to achieve the right temperature for your wines, most of us aren’t lucky enough to have access to one. Luckily there are several ways to chill your red wine.

Ice buckets shouldn’t just be reserved for sparkling wines. They can really come in handy for chilled reds too. Simply take your light-bodied red and place it in an ice bucket filled with water and ice for 15 minutes, take it out and leave it to warm slightly before serving.

To chill your red in a fridge, pop it in for 30 minutes before serving. Then, pour the first glass, allowing it to breathe for 10 minutes before you take your first sip.

While some people may shudder at the idea of having ice cubes in wine, it really is effective. The only issue is the melting ice could dilute your wine. To combat this, freeze a handful of grapes and pop them into your glass.

For a picnic or al fresco dining, a wine cooler sleeve is a must-have wine accessory. Leave the cooler in the freezer overnight, then slip it over your bottle to keep cool. Remove the sleeve and leave the wine to warm slightly before serving.

1. Lambrusco

Flickr: lorenacaes / Creative Commons Lambruscos are very light-bodied sparkling wines made in northeastern Italy of Lambrusco grapes. Supposedly they were first produced by the Etruscans. As you may know, wine results when yeast eats sugary grape juice; if a winemaker stops that fermentation before the yeast are through, there will be sugar left in the wine. Some Lambruscos are sweet (meaning the winemaker has left sugar in the wine itself), some are medium-dry (meaning there’s some sugar in the wine) and some are dry (meaning there’s little to no sugar left in the wine itself). Why is Lambrusco spritzy? The simplified answer is that the other by-product of fermentation is carbon dioxide. In order to make a sparkling wine like Lambrusco, winemakers first produce a still wine (with no sparkles) and then add more sugar and let the yeast go to town again — what’s called a “secondary fermentation” — this time trapping the gas in the wine.

Dessert Wines

A general rule of thumb for chilling dessert wines is to chill the whites, such as sauternes, and serve port or sherry at cellar temperature. And, don’t chill the glasses – your dessert wine may end up tasting like the leftovers in the refrigerator.

As with all wine glasses, hold the glass by its stem. Wrapping a hand around the bowl heats the wine inside, counteracting the chill and throwing off the delicate taste.