Author: Sam Wigan
Why is it that we have this ingrained notion that red wines should not be served chilled?
Here in Australia we live in the lowest, flattest, driest inhabited continent in the world, and most of the time it is the hottest. So why should the white wines, bubbles and Rosé dominate the warmer months? Time to bring some chilled reds into the mix.
I remember being on holidays in Darwin where it seems to be warm and sunny every day. A beer or G&T in the afternoon or a glass of white wine at sunset was a daily ritual, particularly with some wild Barramundi. But what if you’re thinking steak for dinner? Bold flavours can be too much with light, crisp white wines, so it’s times like that where a chilled red comes into its own! A spicy Tempranillo or Shiraz served chilled on a warm night with a char-grilled T-bone, thick cut chips and salad - perfect!
I tend to enjoy lighter varieties like Grenache/Garnacha, Gamay and Pinot Noir at temperatures between 10-15°C during the warmer months. These wines are typically young and fresh, with subtle or no oak, full of fresh florals and red berries, and lighter in tannin, which make them ideal for chilling. They are wines that pair very well with summer fare. Think Jamaican jerk chicken with a mango salsa, paired with chilled Running with Bulls Garnacha for instance - delicious.
For fuller bodied reds with bolder tannins like Tempranillo, Shiraz and Cabernet, I still recommend chilling during the warmer months, but probably not to the same extent; ideally 15-19°C. Of course, all of this depends on personal preference, so experiment with what works best for you.
Ideally, you would put the bottle in the fridge about an hour before you want to enjoy it. A fridge may not always be available, so if you are at a BBQ then throw it on top of the ice in an Esky to chill. Even a half hour in an ice bucket on the table will help drop the temperature and make the wine more approachable. If you get it slightly too cold, don’t stress, as on a hot day it will warm up in the bottle or in your glass.
• At cooler temperatures, the wine will look fresher, more vibrant and the alcohol will seem less apparent.
• You can enjoy red wines on hot days and evenings.
• You can match them with foods that you would normally look to a white wine for a match.
• Not only will the wine be cool, but so will you when you introduce your friends to this trend.
• If the wine gets too cold it can dull the aromatics, but this is easily undone by letting it warm up slightly.
• If the wine has a lot of tannin or oak and the wine is too cool, it can seem more astringent and even more acidic. Once again, this is easily undone by letting it warm up slightly.
So in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the risks!
Have fun this summer trying different red wines at cooler temperatures and pairing with foods that you may reserve for white wines. Check out the suggestions below of a couple of my favourite recipes to match with some chilled reds.
Wine: Dalrymple Pinot Noir
Food matches: Chipotle portobello tacos, chicken and mushroom dumplings or Vietnamese grilled pork chops.
Wine: Running with Bulls Garnacha
Food matches: Jamaican jerk chicken with mango salsa, Thai-style sweetcorn fritters or chilli lime tofu and peach skewers.
Wine: Running With Bulls Tempranillo
Food matches: Fig and prosciutto pizza, char-grilled lamb cutlets or cauliflower tacos.