By Mark DeWolf
National President Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers
While entertaining outdoors this summer season, consider chilling out with a red wine. While you might be used to bathing your beer and white wines in icy water, there are also certain red wines that benefit from a little chill. Most of these are light fruit forward wines that pair beautifully with simple summer fare such as simply grilled meats, antipasto and a range of hors d’oeuvres.
5 Cooler Friendly Red Wine Styles
Few wines want a cool bath more than Beaujolais. Wines labelled as simply Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages tend to be full of confected fruit flavours that come when served slightly chilled. Ramp up your Beauj game by serving a slightly chilled Cru (wines made from grapes grown in one of the 10 communes known for producing the best grapes). While some Cru such as Moulin-a-Vent are too robust for chilling, light Cru such as Regnie, Fleurie and Saint-Amour will have their floral and red fruit flavours enhanced when served a little cooler than room temperature.
Pairings: cured meats, grilled salmon, grilled chicken
This classic Venetian (Northern Italy) blend is characteristically tannin poor and fruit rich. Give a bottle a little chill to bring out of its tangy cherry deliciousness. Standard styles are labelled as Valpolicella but look wines labelled as Valpolicella Superiore for a guarantee the grapes had a little more natural ripeness before fermentation.
Pairings: salami, prosciuitto, grilled vegetables, grilled pizza (yes..it is a thing)
Most Pinot Noir benefit from a slight chill but the lightest and fruitiest are simply ice bucket friendly. Determining which Pinot Noir are light and fruity compared to more substantial styles can be a bit problematic as there is no guidance on most Pinot Noir’s from label that clearly identifies style. Alcohol can be one guide. Veer to lower alcohol versions and by in large price point. Veer to less expensive styles.
Pairings: grilled pork, grilled salmon, grilled tuna, turkey burgers
Not all Tempranillo benefit from a chill. When made in a lighter, fresher style than can provide strawberry-like flavours and mild tannins. Avoid aged versions or fuller-bodied styles such as Spanish Ribera de Duero. If picking up a Rioja, avoid Reservas and Gran Reservas and stick to Crianza or Joven.
Pairings: simple grilled lamb chops, chorizo, savoury grilled vegetable dishes, simply grilled pork
Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent is decidedly less tannic than its progeny. Loire versions from Anjou can be light and fruity, often with a little herbaceous, vegetal underpinning. Another place for good Cabernet Franc is Ontario. Stick to entry levels as at the top end Niagara vintners often try to coax Bordeaux-like structure from their Cab Franc.
Pairings: lamb burgers, burgers, grilled peppers