Chilled Reds: The Summer Wine Sleeper Hit

Refrigerating red wine isn’t as sacrilegious as you thought it was. Try serving these ten refreshing reds as cold as your favorite summertime rosé.

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Close your eyes and picture your ideal summer wine. Is it pink? Or maybe a pale straw color and served so cold that condensation beads up on the outside of the glass? Whites and rosés are the obvious summertime go-tos, but discounting the elegant charm of a perfectly chilled red would be a serious mistake.

While putting a bottle of red in the fridge is considered reprehensible to some, sommeliers are doing their best to spread the gospel: Too often red wines are served too warm. That proverbial room a red wine’s temperature should match? It’s no sweltering one-bedroom apartment. It’s not even a centrally cooled condo. It’s actually more of a dark, subterranean cellar in an old stone castle: A room in which you might want to throw a shawl over your shoulders.

“All our reds are served at 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Caleb Ganzer, head sommelier at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in New York, a temperature he refers to as a "sweet spot.” “It helps the fruit pop more. When a wine is too warm, the alcohol takes prominence.”

But there’s even a group of reds—particularly the fruity, flirty ones—that can be served at even icier temperatures: as chilled as a white or rosé.

The reds that lend themselves best to these conditions, says Ganzer, are “lighter in body, lower in tannin, high-acid, fruit-forward, juicy, and fresh. Not too complicated. Almost, by nature, chuggable.” He names Gamay as the ideal chilled red, be it from Beaujolais or elsewhere.

Dean Fuerth, the wine director at Betony in New York, names a few more: “Generally, thin-skinned varietals from cooler climates take well to lower serving temperatures,” he says. “Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, carbonic Syrah from the Northern Rhone, Schiava from Alto Adige, reds from the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal just to name a few.”

At Tofino Wines, a wine shop-slash-bar in San Francisco, a section of the list is devoted to chilled reds. A house favorite is Frappato from Sicily, which local fishermen have been chilling to pair with sardines and other regional specialties for generations. You’ll also find reds from the Loire Valley and the Jura on the list.

“People have gotten so used to drinking all kinds of rosé—not just the pale Provençal stuff—that it’s not such a leap to make to chilled red,” says Tofino partner Mark Nevin. “Except that rosés often exist on one plane. They can suffer if they get too warm. But you can bring a chilled red to a barbecue and it doesn’t have to live on ice. As it warms, it changes. But not in a way that makes you want to stop drinking it.”

Here, our favorite reds to throw on ice now, and savor as the summer season winds down.