If you’ve never had the chance to enjoy a red wine straight out of the fridge, it’s time to step outside the box and give your taste buds an adventure. It’s not commonly known, but a chilled red wine can make for a surprisingly refreshing summertime treat.
Chilling red wine wreaks havoc with its acidity, alcohol and tannin levels — in a good way. It can either accentuate or mute those components depending on the structure of each.
So how, exactly, does this affect its taste? The colder the beverage, the less you’ll be able to taste it. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With the right wine, the result can be remarkably refreshing and enjoyable — it will amplify the wine’s fruity character, give it an exciting, “juicy” personality and humble any harsh tannins. I like to say that a nicely chilled red will kiss you smack dab on the lips.
Chilling a red also enhances its ability to pair with food, such as your favourite fish straight off the barbeque.
To keep things simple, this alteration should be done with wines that are light- to medium-bodied at best, and that have:
- lower tannin levels,
- lower alcohol levels (ideally below 13%),
- and have spent little to no time in oak barrels.
I don’t like to reference degrees (because let’s face it, who carries a thermometer?), so here’s a simple guideline for chilling your reds: 15 minutes in an ice bucket (50/50 water and ice) or 30 minutes in the fridge.
To get you started, here are three easy-to-find red wines to chill out with this summer:
1. Monte del Frà, Bardolino – Italy ($16.99)
A curvaceous blend of corvina, rondinella and sangiovese, super charged with berry patch aromas, and a soft, savoury spice that nibbles your ear. Cibo Trattoria pours this as part of their new ‘chilled red by the glass’ selection. Available at BC Liquor Stores.
2. Maison L. Tramier & Fils ‘Roncier’, Burgundy – France ($19.99 — 750 mL or $36.00 — 1.5 L)
Mostly pinot noir with a touch of syrah for good measure — perfect for a gathering with friends. Like a rustic, cherry mushroom tart served on a bed of silky rose petals. Available at private liquor stores (Liberty Wine Merchants‘ Commercial Drive location usually carries it).
3. Veedha ‘Douro’ – Portugal ($18.00)
A blend of traditional grapes from Portugal: touriga nacional, touriga franca and tinta roriz (also known as tempranillo). Sinfully divine with liquid raspberry and chocolate mousse at the core surrounded by a lace of fig, violets and hazelnuts. Available at Marquis Wine Cellars.
The Monte del Frà vineyard in the village of Custoza, Italy.