Chances are you’ve encountered someone who considers chilling red wine to be right up there with taking a knife to the Mona Lisa: absolutely despicable and unacceptable to distinguished wine drinkers everywhere. Well, the reality of the situation isn’t quite so strict. Barring the fact that people should be able to consume alcohol however they please, some red wines are actually best served cold.
Not Your Mama’s Red
Wine has come a long way since its original emergence into popularity. Rosé is an excellent example of this change; formerly understood as a (sometimes sickeningly) sweet dessert wine, it has stepped onto the scene as the wine for a hot summer evening, outselling white wine even in France. In fact, chilled red wine seems to have stepped up to the plate as its current biggest competitor. The shift comes down to the simple fact that more wineries are experimenting with reds that can withstand refrigeration without becoming undrinkable.
Many natural winemakers produce reds that are high in aromatics, but low in tannins — which is crucial because chilling will make any wine more tannic (or textured). Additionally, there has been a social shift away from wine as an expensive and highly cultured experience. Rather, glou-glou wines (which literally and hilariously translates in French to glug-glug) are easily drinkable and affordable — and are almost always chillable reds.
Grape varietals that do well chilled include the following: Zinfandel, Frappato, Pinot Noir, and some Beaujolais. Carignan, a red grape grown in Spain but most commonly found in French wine, is also on that list (there is even a winemaker in California whose ‘Playful Peasant’ red uses Carignan grapes from vines planted in 1900), among a few choice blends.
Apparently, you don’t need to look very far these days to find a worthwhile glou-glou wine. The summer may be coming to an end, but your enjoyment of wine sure doesn’t have to. Embrace your love of chilled red wine without shame; try out a few varieties and brands to get a feel for what you love, and just love it!