Now that spring is in the air, it’s time to start thinking about refreshing drinks that will help us enjoy the hot weather. This is the time of year when even the most serious red wine drinkers occasionally opt for white wine to stave off the added heat that red wine brings to a hot spring or summer day. So the big questions are: What is the ideal temperature for red wine in hot weather? Can you chill a red wine to make it more ideal?
Ideal temperature for red wine in hot weather: Can chilling help?
For a number of reasons, lightly chilling a red wine can be perfect for hot weather. How does chilling help?
- A little chill seriously tames the alcohol feel, making wine more refreshing.
- A little chill showcases fruit in some red wines. Victoria Kulinich, sommelier at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, California, says that “… Easy-going Gamay or… plush Malbec… can be served cold to… show off their fruit.”
- Munchies says that “When red wines are lightly chilled, their aromatics and flavors tighten. This tightening causes an energized acidity and fresh crispness that you wouldn’t find in the wine at room temperature.” I strongly agree with this and would describe the slightly chilled wine as being livelier than the room temperature wine. You can see more in my article “Tips for Serving Wine at the Perfect Temperature.”
According to Dujour, the French offer the best options for red wines that can be chilled. These include young Cru Beaujolais, Chinon or Côtes du Rhone. Dujour recommends a serving temperature between 50 and 55 degrees.
A Couple of Warnings about Chilling Red Wine
- Be careful not to over chill a red wine. Too much chill hides a wine’s taste. It’s fun to experiment with this. Chill a red wine for a long time and try it. You’re likely to taste nothing. But then sit with your wine for 30 minutes, drinking another sip every five minutes. Take note of how the wine changes.
- Chill and tannin aren’t good partners – A low tannin wine like Pinot Noir is great for chilling. High tannin wines like Cabernet should never be chilled. Again, as an experiment, chill a high tannin wine and see how it tastes. You’ll be relieved to re-taste the wine once it warms up.
The reality is that your wine serving temperature is all about your personal preference. But as the days grow warmer, it can be a fun, delicious learning experience to add a little chill to your red wines.
What is your experience with chilling red wine?