You don’t have to ditch the red wine on hot days. Take Joe Wadsack’s lead and chill it down – the results may surprise you.
There are few truer statements about wine than this: whites tend to be drunk too cold and reds tend to be drunk too warm.
Of course, the invention of wine pre-dates the facility to refrigerate effectively, so in the timeline of wine’s history, exact and preferred temperatures are very much a modern conversation. But getting the temperature right does make a difference.
The more one delves, explores and experiments with the temperature of wine, the more complex and intriguing the conundrum becomes. I’ve learned that if you get the temperature wrong, some of the wine’s many facets can be locked away in the glass, never to be revealed.
But before we become too fussy, it should also be said that the temperature you want to drink it at is always the correct one. Sometimes, especially at the beach, say, there will be a desire to drink the first glass of wine, fizzy or otherwise, at a thirst-slaking, brain freeze-inducing low temperature. Oh, the sensation of that first, frosty drink. I dare say that bartenders, used to a swift Daiquiri on arrival, may also err towards the colder end of the spectrum.
However, if we are talking about wine appreciation with less context, the experience can always be optimised by adjusting the temperature. There is always an optimum temperature where texture, crispness, tannin and fruit all coalesce to strike the finest balance.
Although it has to be said that is not always at the same temperature for everyone. So, rather than looking at wine temperature as another rug to trip on, see it as a fine-tuning of the experience. Now, back to my opening premise. Red wine always prefers to be very slightly below room temperature, and white wine likes to be not much colder than that, say 10°C as a starting point. If the wine appears to disagree, I’d say that says more about the wine than the temperature.
With that in mind, we’ve seen the chilling of red wine become more and more common. I knew a bar owner who only drank cold wine all year round, claiming only idiots would drink a room-temperature 15% Australian Shiraz in the height of summer. “I mean, who does that?,” he would say.
I would gently remind him that Australians did it quite a lot. However, the direction that red wine is going, especially in hipster bars and creative bistros, is about texture and refreshment. Delightfully quenching acidities, complex aromas and stony, minerally textures. I have never seen so much herbaceous, smashable “vin glou glou” on French bistro menus. Furthermore, I am first in the queue.
Here are five red wines that always taste magnificent after a cheeky 10 minutes in the fridge door, and are cropping up in every cool bar in town. These are retail prices, so knock a quarter off for a rough trade price, or times by three for your menu price.
Saumur Rouge 2021 Vignerons de Saumur, Loire, France (Yapp Brothers £12.50)
Oh god, how refreshing! An oakless Cabernet Franc packed with redcurrants and nettley blackcurrants that when served from the fridge genuinely quenches like cranberry juice, while having enough vinosity to mop up a pile of small crispy lamb chops and a bowl of frites with its eyes closed.
Marcillac 2020 Domaine du Cros, Southern France (Peckham Cellars £14.95)
Made from an inky, mouthwatering elderberry-like grape variety called Fer Servadou. The fruit is almost crunchy, like a summer pudding full of pippy currants that’s just screaming out for simple steak au poivre and a mixed salad. This wine has an accent and wears a beret.
Frédéric Berne Beaujolais Lantignié Granit Rosé 2021 (Various independents, £16.50)
Insert literally any Beaujolais here, and we are currently spoiled for choice. The village of Lantigné deserves to be an appellation in its own right, due to the incredible ancient rose schist and blue stones that litter this place. The wines, chilled, are just sublime, with aromas of violets, raspberries and cherry. A piece of poached wild salmon, or even a fillet steak béarnaise would go perfectly by a river somewhere.
Seriously Cool Cinsault 2021, Waterkloof, South Africa (Field & Fawcett, £12.95)
The Cinsault grape has been much maligned as a boring, high-cropping worker grape, good only for rosé. Turns out the South Africans knew something we didn’t, and it’s pretty bloody delicious, silky and incredibly moreish if done right. Serve straight from the cellars to firm up those creamy, cherry-filled tannins. This is Vimto for grown ups.
Zweigelt Titan 2019 Weingut Rabl, Langenlois, Austria (Waitrose Cellar £17.50)
Blauer Zweigelt is the love child of Austria’s other two red varieties, Blaufrankisch and St Laurent, and I cannot get enough of it. It is silky, sophisticated and full of bright, red fruit, with a hint of rhubarb. Drinks beautifully at room temperature but shows a different, more serious side after being left outside for a few minutes. Drink with confit of duck or pork belly. Sublime.