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The Best Red Wines to Drink Cold This Summer

June 9, 2014

Lambruscos aren’t the only reds that taste good chilled—count on these five bottles to make your next barbecue a little cooler.

By: Jim Clarke

Dual-zone wine refrigerators lifted us out of the Dark Ages, cooling our full-bodied Bordeaux and Barolo to a perfect 60 to 65 degrees. But on a hot summer day, forget the wine thermometer and consider a red that takes kindly to a plunge in the poolside ice bucket. There’s life beyond Lambruscos, says Pascaline Lepeltier, who oversees the much-lauded wine list at New York City’s Rouge Tomate. She suggests looking for lighter-bodied options, because many heavier ones can taste astringent when chilled.

Grapes like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Barbera are more suitable than Cabernet and Syrah, but a good rule of thumb is that reds from moderate climates like New Zealand and France’s Loire Valley tend to cool better. So give the Sauvignon Blanc a rest—here, a quick guide to our favorite cold reds.

No. 01 / California Goes Method
Reds like Navarro Méthode à l’Ancienne Pinot Noir show that you don’t have to abandon complexity when drinking one cold. This stunner delivers an earthiness balanced by hibiscus and red cherries.

No. 02 / The South African Refresher
Even in warm conditions, Cinsault can produce floral aromas. As the name implies, theWaterkloof “Seriously Cool” Cinsault was made for a hot day.

No. 03 / Tap the (Italian) Rockies
The mountainous Alto Adige region provides the perfect climate for refreshing wines, yielding memorable reds like St. Magdalener Huck am Bach. Think light, spicy, and just a little bit of heft.

No. 04 / The French Standby That Never Gets Old
Beaujolais is the classic chilled red, and one of the best is M. Lapierre Raisins Gaulois, which has notes of cranberries and raspberries and finishes with a hint of anise.

No. 05 / Portugal’s Lambrusco Alternative
Most Vinho Verdes have just a touch of carbonation, but Aphros’ Vinhão Super-Reserva Bruto—which offers hints of cranberries, black cherries, and tar—is full of fizz.

• • •

Pro Tip: How to Chill a Bottle Quickly
Mix ice, water, and a handful of salt in an ice bucket and drop in your Pinot. If you’re out of ice, wrap the bottle in a wet dish towel and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

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Photograph by Jeremy Liebman. Set Design by Kate Landucci for Mary Howard Studio. Food styling by Karen Evans.