Chilled red wines 7-6-2022

NEWS FLASH: We are in the “Dog Days of Summer,” or “High Summer” as it was called in the Old South. Whatever you call the scorching time between early July and mid-August, it is time to chill your wines.

That includes chilling red wines. Forget the myth that chilling reds means killing reds. Lighter, less alcoholic, less tannic, less oaky red wines do fine chilled. And, yes, you can even put an ice cube in your glass if you wish.

Some chillable reds:

• Cinsault’s delicate tannins and its strawberry and cherry flavors show well when chilled.

• Gamay, best known for its use in Beaujolais. Chill its lighter-bodied iterations.

• New World pinot noirs with lighter bodies and more fruit-forward approaches work well. Heavier pinot noirs, including lower-end, mass-produced pinots are not as suitable.

• Zweigelt, Austria’s most-planted red, brings cherries and chocolate and soft tannins to the chilled red strategy.

Zweigelt leaf and grapes. Photo by Bauer Karl.

You likely have other favored lighter reds. Experiment. If you don’t like the red chilled, leave it alone and in this season of triple-digit days, it will warm up soon enough to be enjoyed in your air-conditioned abode.

General tips:

• Chilled reds should be between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Chill the bottle to your refrigerator’s temperature, then take it out an hour before serving.

• Conversely, put the bottle in your refrigerator 30-45 minutes before serving.

• Chill in a bucket of ice and water—ice alone is too slow. Add salt to the water speed things up even more.

If you are not willing to warm to chilled reds, you can always fall back on chilled rosés and light, bright whites. There is no reason to eschew wine just because cows are producing evaporated milk and hot water is coming out of both your taps.

Tasting notes:

• Sokol Blosser Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2021: Chill out with this chilled on a hot summer’s day. $17-25 Link to my review

• Domaine de Cala Rosé, Coteaux Varois, Provence 2021: Restrained red fruits flirt with your palate rather than assault it; 60% cinsault. $19-21 Link to my review

• McCay Cellars Rosé of Cinsault, Lodi Appellation 2019: Provence-style rosé from quality Lodi producer. Follows cinsault varietal profile very closely. $35 Link to my review

Last round: It was so hot farmers fed their chickens ice so they wouldn’t lay boiled eggs. Wine time.