Some people think that the best wines in warm weather are only white and rosé. But I never subscribed to this train of thought. I still want to drink red wines with much of the food that could end up on a grill at a summer gathering.
What changes seasonally for me is weight and temperature. That is, I generally prefer lighter wines over the kind of dense reds that would go great with cooler weather stews and braises. And I like red that can withstand a light cold.
This may seem heresy to those devoid of the idea that red wines should be served at room temperature. That’s good advice if the room in question is an old stone wine cellar with a constant temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. But in a steaming kitchen in the sultry July heat? No, thank you.
This month we’re exploring chillable red wines. We will also take the opportunity to look at the effect of temperature on the wine itself. I have chosen three reds that I think will work perfectly. They are:
Broc cellars North Coast Love Red 2021, 12.5 percent, (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York) $22
Jean-Paul Bruno Domaine des Terres Dorées Morgon 2020, 12.5 percent, $25
COS Terre Siciliane Frappato 2021, 12.0 percent (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY) $28
If you can’t find these wines, many other options will suffice. The idea is that they should have a moderate alcohol content, below about 13.5 percent, not oaky or tannic, and not particularly complex. The taste and feel of oak and tannins are exaggerated when it’s colder, and the chill makes it harder to discern nuances and complexities.
You might look at the kind of thirst-quenching wines we drank a few years ago—the Broc would fit into that category—or other easy Beaujolais or Italian reds like the Brun and COS. Or something completely different, such as a young Rioja or Ribeira Sacra, a simple Loire red or a subdued red from Argentina or Chile. You know what kind of bottles I’m talking about.
If, like me, you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, drink it with the kind of food you would cook on a grill — burgers or sausages, marinated chicken thighs, maybe seared eggplant, or other vegetarian options.
Here’s what I suggest: put the bottles in the fridge and let them cool. Take them out about 20 minutes before eating and try them straight from the fridge. Taste again when you start your meal and notice how they change over time. Leave a little in the bottle so you can try it at room temperature one last time.
As for my usual closing reminder not to drink the wine too hot, I think we’ve covered that already.