Experts recommend top four red varieties for ‘chilling out’ with when the heat is on.
(Courtesy of Royal Wines) Conventional wisdom holds that red wine is too heavy to drink during the summer. It’s true that many full-bodied, tannic reds can be hard to enjoy when the weather turns hot and humid.
However, some delicious reds can and should be served slightly chilled. They’re light and refreshing enough to share a place at the picnic table with whites and rosés. In fact, these reds are perfect companions to traditional summer fare like grilled steaks, BBQ ribs and burgers.
According to the experts at The Royal Wine Corp., the top four varieties of red wine particularly suited to the (hot)dog days of summer are Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Francs, Tempranillos and Tintos. Gabriel Geller, director of public relations and client services/wine education, Royal Wine Co., recommends chilling them to accompany warm-weather menus.
Geller explains that red wines are made from dozens of different kinds of grapes, and it’s up to the winemaker to decide what style he or she wants to achieve. “Wines can be made light or heavy, depending in large part to the type of grapes being used. Some kinds of grapes develop more tannins—compounds in the skin, stem and seed that give wine its dryness and acidity—which impact the resulting wine.”
Royal Wine advises consumers to look for these red summer favorites when planning a BBQ on the patio, a day at the beach or just a relaxed get-together with friends and family.
Pinot Noir is a grape with a very thin skin, and is thus less tannic than Cabernet Saugivnon, Syrah and Merlot. Wines made from this variety are usually light-bodied, elegant and delicate. “Serve Pinot Noir at about 65 degrees,” suggests Geller. “It pairs perfectly with chicken, veal or salmon.” One favorite is the Baron Herzog Pinot Noir, featuring flavors of currants, tart raspberries and dark chocolate. “It’s not only a very enjoyable wine,” Geller says, “but also a fantastic value.”
A chilled Cabernet Franc such as the Domaine du Val Brun Saumur-Champigny is an ideal companion to casual outdoor fare like charcuterie and grilled vegetables. A light- to medium-bodied wine from the Loire Valley in France, it has a bouquet of violets and strawberries with a hint of earth and spice. Geller adds, “This wine, like the Baron Herzog, also represents tremendous value.”
Garnacha or Garnatxa (Grenache), a variety grown primarily in Spain and in the south of France, is highly versatile in that it can be bold and heavy or restrained and refined. The Capçanes Peraj Petita, produced at the highly regarded Celler de Capçanes in Montsant, Spain, has interesting and somewhat unusual flavors. Geller describes it as medium-bodied with hints of cherries, roasted meats, minerals and espresso, and says it pairs perfectly with smoked meats, dried salami and grilled vegetables.
Tinto de verano (literally “red wine of summer”), another chilled red, is a light, medium-bodied cousin of Sangria. Elvi, a Spanish brand of quality kosher wines, creates a budget-friendly Tinto blend. Elvi Vina Encina Tinto carries flavors of cranberries, licorice and smoke, and has a moderate alcohol content. Geller calls this well-balanced blend ideal for the warm weather and “quite food-friendly. It’s versatile enough to complement Mediterranean dishes like grilled chicken with pesto, although it also marries well with a big, juicy burger.”