Chilling with red wine
August 7th, 2011
05:00 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

It’s one of the big mysteries - up there with crop circles, the second gunman in Dallas, and why anyone on earth eats Marmite. Why don’t people drink red wine cold? It’s summer, it’s hot, you love red wine, and what’s the answer? A big warm glass of Zinfandel? Body-temperature Cabernet?

The thing is, there are a number of red wines out there that chill down just fine. The main consideration is this: If you have a big, tannic red, serving it cold will accentuate those tannins and make it astringent and harsh. But a lighter red, not so heavy on the tannins and bright with fruit, well, chuck it in the cooler and go.

Here are a few possibilities. Or you can just go on drinking that steaming glass of Syrah while you sweat in the blazing sun. Along with a big schmear of Marmite on toast.

The perfect picnic wine, and so, unsurprisingly, nice with a light chill. The gamay grape, from which Beaujolais is made, is unprepossessing, not very tannic at all, and full of lively cherry-raspberry fruit. The 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages ($10) is a fine option.

Italy’s answer to Beaujolais (though Frappato from Sicily is another strong contender). Bardolino comes from the hills near Lake Garda, uses the same grape varieties as Amarone (oddly enough, given that Amarone is one of the higher-octane reds around), and has a gentle wild-cherry-ish flavor. The 2010 Corte Giara Bardolino ($11) is a good one to seek out.

Pinot Noir
Some Pinots don’t chill well—more robust versions, for instance a good percentage of what California produces. But find a delicate, lighter style, and Pinot tastes great chilled down. Oregon’s a good place to look; among the best choices there is the floral 2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($20).

Sparkling Shiraz
Freaky stuff: black-purple in color, big and hearty in character, and fizzy. But for a cookout it’s a fun option, and it tastes far better cold than regular, non-sparkling Shiraz. Plus, when your friends see you holding a glass, they’ll say entertaining things like, “What the heck is that?” The best I’ve run into recently is the NV The Chook Sparkling Shiraz ($19).

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Sip • Wine

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. nalysale

    That's a great idea Abby.Red wine with ice is a really nice idea.It can made our dawn interesting.Whether it is cold or hot red wine always rock

    September 8, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  2. Lambrusco Day


    August 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  3. fob

    My husband bartends part time at a beer and wine bar. They chill their red wine to 65 degrees in a separate cooler. I prefer mine warmer. And he actually has a customer that requests to have his red wine microwaved for a few seconds to take the chill off.

    August 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Eric

      That is the craziest thing I have ever heard.

      August 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
      • Matt

        WTH!? Agreed.

        August 16, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  4. Eric

    Yes, not everyone lived in a castle in the middle ages, but rich or poor, from the south of the Iberian peninsula to Scandinavia, people have had cellars, which are a good place to keep your wine, and a lot cooler than "Body-temperature Cabernet." What kind of silliness is that?

    August 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Joey


    August 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Alienate

      My Favorite Red Wine!

      The colder the better.
      Now let the Wine Snobs berate me. :)

      August 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
      • Lambrusco Day

        No longer! :) See:

        August 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  6. CMS

    How about Malvasia?

    August 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  7. juLIA

    Perfect !!!
    machines à sous sans téléchargement

    August 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  8. Schmellock

    What temperature should I serve my Bartles and James wine coolers at?

    August 8, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • AleeD

      Same temp you serve Kool-aid and PB&j sammiches. ;)

      August 8, 2011 at 8:23 am |
      • Schmellock@AleeD

        LOL!!! That should have been "Schmellockk."

        August 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  9. Blindban

    Cellar temperature (about 60 degress) is the recommended serving temperature for most reds.

    August 8, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  10. Vance Petrunoff

    VINI Pinot Noir from the Danube River Plains region in Northern Bulgaria are good example of lighter Pinots and is in a Best Buy at the Wine Enthusiast this month – only $8.99.

    August 8, 2011 at 3:45 am |
  11. Paul Macaluso

    August 8, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  12. Angel

    People who r physically and mentally abused and never to be made felt worthy become sychosociapaths by their upbring from the very young age easy to figure out look at the hate crimes

    August 8, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  13. Angel

    Its amazing what little simple adjustments made can turn any event into a most memorable one i would like to thank everyone for sharing the knowledge on wines.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  14. Texas Harry

    Rick...what a beautiful solution. You have captured the American Entrepreneurial Spirit. Stay thirsty my friend!

    August 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  15. Rick Springfield

    I put all my wines and drinks in a special fridge. Not exactly what you think though. I have a 1978 Dometic electric/propane fridge that's on its last lap. The best it will do on the fridge compartment is 65 degrees. It will still freeze though in the upper compartment. So, I put all my hard liquor in the upper section since it will not freeze. I put all my wines in the lower section which for me is perfect to come home after a very hard day and have a couple glasses of child Cabfranc.

    August 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Jessie's Girl

      Hey creep, I've been looking for you for years after you dumped me at the altar for that slut soap star from General Hospital. Great to hear that you're struggling and having to use an old trailer home fridge for that pricey Boones Farm.

      August 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  16. John Holmes

    Should I chill my "red peckerino" ?

    August 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Texas Harry

      John H...I'll bet that thing does need a chill before it is out of control!

      August 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  17. Texas Harry

    oops...I forgot Thunderbird!

    August 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  18. Texas Harry

    This ole' redneck chills them all - red, white, blush, Mogen David, MD 20/20...LOL

    August 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  19. Beernifer

    I love the Chook Sparkling Shiraz. I bring a bottle of that to every cook out during the summer. It is fantastic with burgers and is a good conversation starter with people I don't know.

    August 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  20. Benito Veira

    Dear Friends, you should drink red wine a bit cold, a bit only. If you like drink very cold wine , please test the Albarino-Rias Baixas white wine from Galicia ( Spain), one of the best wines , and it´s not so much expensive...

    August 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  21. sam

    Hey its good for the Kids too right,even your behind the wheel of that SUV

    August 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • BB

      relax sam,take a "chill" pill, get it chill pill lol

      August 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  22. It's all about knowledge

    It's so funny to see all the people saying they know something about wine. Well, guess what, I don't know much about it. Some wines I drink are better, others not as good, but I generally enjoy wine with a meal the same way someone can enjoy a cold Coke with fries, or a beer. So, all the eatocracy and the aristocracy, come down a few steps from the ladder, and share with the rest of us mortals.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  23. sam

    Thats it Keep Advertising ALCOHOL

    August 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jray

      Take a hike, Sam. Go beat your drum somewhere else.

      August 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • BB

      shut up sam get off your soap box

      August 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Dos Equis@Sam

      That's exactly what we'll do.
      Encouragement is a nice touch

      August 9, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Jerv@sammy bofanny

      No, you have it all wrong. Forget advertising "ALCOHOL", drink it you big dummy.

      August 9, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  24. Kathryn Musial

    lol....Chinese restaurants have been doing it for years!

    August 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  25. JMH

    don't forget Dolcetta

    August 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  26. carl

    A Reggiano drinks well in the summer.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  27. Wzrd1

    Hmmm, that reminds me, where DID the wife hide my Marmite?

    August 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  28. Duh

    Red wines are suppose to be chilled anyway. Room temperature in a castle in Europe was not what we think of it today. Most reds should be chilled in the fridge for about an hour.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      There iS an exception to that. Ports and Madeira wines should be at room temperature.
      Of course, *I* chill them anyway.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Mouthy

      DUH! NOT!

      August 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • D

      Red wines should be served around 60 degrees F ..... not exactly an hour in the fridge (more like 10-15 minutes). And "chilled" isn't even an appropriate word, but it magically works when comparing anything against "room temperature" (that is lower).

      August 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Cork Dork


      I work in the wine industry and agree with you that most Americans have a skewed perspective on what room temperature really means. But if you served me a red wine out of the fridge I might get up and walk away. The reason that people conitunally serve less quality wines at cooler temperatures is because it masks the weak and faulty tastes. Come on dude, wine is supposed to be served around 65 degrees but can hold temps all the way to 80. Dont ruin a good wine by putting it in a common fridge!

      August 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
      • situationalawareness

        Cork Dork:
        I consider myself a wine lover as well (not drinking bottles at a time,but enjoying the tastes of different styles). Most of the time, people do not have another form of cooling device at their disposal, so a refrigerator is the only option. It's not terribly hard to chill a bottle. I myself don't have a cooler (apartment, space is an issue) so since I'm not in a culinarily perfect environment I enjoy my bottles chilled for 15 or so minutes.

        Granted, I find myself usually leaving them aereate for a bit to bring life back into them. Using one of the inexpensive ($7) aeriation pourers helps a bit as well, I've noticed. Once I can have my bottles consistently chilled at 60-65 degrees, I'll break for one of the more expensive aereation devices.

        August 8, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • See

      I've heard that before, but it doesn't really make sense. Not many people lived in castles, not all castles were in cold parts of Europe, and people who lived in castles were plenty capable of getting a team together to warm up rooms for them. People who didn't live in castles also lived in places like France, Spain, and Italy. Wine could be anything from half-frozen to steam. Not knocking you because I've heard this more than once.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • David

      I drink it anyway I want – sometimes cool – sometime warm. If no on likes it – tough!

      August 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
      • Bonecrusher

        Meh hehehe. I'm wid ya on dat 1.

        August 16, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • abbyful

      According to George Riedel, you're supposed to put red wine in a bucket of water with ONE handful of ice, drink it when the ice melts, which should be able 10-15 minutes. Just *barely* chilled.

      August 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
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