It is high summer—time for chilled whites and rosés. Red wines need not apply. Except that is not correct.
Heat does not have to relegate reds to wine rack rest. You just have to know which reds to enjoy and how to serve them.
Big reds of winter do not do well in three-digit temperature days, but lighter, younger, more acidic reds with no or low oak work just fine because they can perform when chilled.
When you chill wine below 50 degrees you smother phenolics—the compounds that are key components of aroma. Do that to a full-bodied red and you are left mostly with tannins and alcohol. But if you chill lighter reds, their higher acidity and lower tannins allows aromas of red fruits such as cherry and strawberry to remain, plus their lower alcohol makes it fresh and lively rather than a lumbering libation.
The go-to varietal is gamay from Beaujolais, but lighter pinot noir from Sancerre region of France or Oregon also fit this summer bill. Others include wine made from corvina, barbera, grenache, tempranillo, and nebbiolo. The key is to pour versions made in light style with lower alcohol.
Chill the red to around 50 degrees by putting it in the fridge a half hour before consumption, or put it in an ice bucket with water and ice for 15-20 minutes, or put them in the coldest shelf of your wine fridge. Once you begin to enjoy, the wine will warm, which simply will bring them into their best temperature.
Just as there is a place for whites and rosés in the dead of winter, there also is a place for reds in the dog days of summer.
• Veuve Devienne Rosé Sec Sparkling Wine NV: Lively, tasty, slightly sweet sparkler for a really sweet price. Led by gamay grape. $9-12. Link to review
• Joseph Drouhin Domaine de Hospices de Belleville Brouilly 2014: Beaujolais—semi-carbonic maceration starts inside gamay grape before crush. Unique wine. $18-24 Link to review
• Fullerton Five FACES Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2015: Elegant, plush, extremely easy drinker. $32 Link to review
Last round: Pain makes you stronger. Tears make you braver. A broken heart makes you wiser. A good bottle of wine helps you believe that blather and get on with your life.
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