It has been a strange in-between time with the weather. Alternating rainstorms, sunshine, bitter chill, and fleeting heat makes it hard to know what to serve, but I have the ideal suggestions to solve this conundrum. A chilled red. You have probably heard that red wine should be served “at room temperature” but this is certainly not the case for all of them.
For years I thought I disliked Beaujolais as an insipid weaker wine, until I finally had one served lightly chilled and realised how prettily joyful it was with its light-hearted grace. I am not suggesting you pop your oldest Bordeaux in the freezer. This is not something for aged or powerful wines. To best achieve the perfect chilled red look for lighter, fruitier styles of wine. This can mean lighter in colour too as that can imply less tannin, which causes that drying sensation on teeth and gums.
Drying tannins and the use of oak in winemaking can be heightened by cooler temperatures so try to avoid wines with these. The Gamay grape that makes the wines of Beaujolais is the flagship for this style. I love the fruit forward smoothness of Domaine Saint-Cyr or the more natural, low sulphur GAM by Domaine Lathuiliere (£14.75 Corney & Barrow).
A lighter style Pinot Noir is also a treat served slightly colder, as is a South African Cinsault with its rustic floral aromas and vibrant red fruits. Gently sweet wines work well too. One of my absolute chilled red game-changers is Pasqua’s ‘PassioneSentimento’ Passimento Rosso (£11.99 Majestic). Made by slightly drying grapes to concentrate the sugars it results in a plush, velvety soft wine of dark fruits which is devilishly good on a warm day. It is also an exception to the light colour rule.
It is worth thinking outside the box when it comes to regions and discovering more gems. I recently poured a chilled Chateau Ksara Cuvée de Printemps 2021 (£14.99 allaboutwine.com) for wine personality Joe Wadsack who marvelled at its bright sweet fruits and called it a “Lebanese Beaujolais”. And let’s not forget Lambrusco (though many of you may want to) because this Italian sparkling red is making its come back and is on trend for picnics and parties this season.
In general, fresh, juicy young wines that still have some of their zippiness work better than older vintages and as this is all about enjoyable quaffing, I would look for wines with a lower percentage of alcohol, ideally under thirteen per cent. Bear in mind this is chilling, not freezing, which will dampen the flavours of your wine so aim for a cool ten-twelve degrees. Thirty minutes in the fridge before serving should do and let the wine gently warm up as you sip it. This approach is perfection when it comes to all this confusing weather.