When the weather starts to sizzle chilling reds can be such a cooling enriching experience—

Chilling reds is common on the continent and when the weather starts to sizzle it can be such a cooling enriching experience that we should be celebrating far more often.

Rules of thumb are simple: stick to light-bodied reds with a minimum of new oak and generally youthful ones – stick to wines that are under two or three years old as a general guide.

Another broad rule is to favour pale reds lower in alcohol, generally stay below 13% – Cabernet Franc in the Loire’s Saumur-Champigny has been the traditional go-to choice of mine for years.

However, sometimes you find the odd bottle where the booze is a bit higher yet the fruit and finesse just suit being chilled, such as my Garnacha pick from Marks and Spencer.

Grape varieties that work best served chilled have thinner skins and therefore less tannin to dry your mouth. Chilling reds has the double effect of emphasising fruit flavours as well as tannin, so picking softer reds makes them easier to sip as an aperitif or with the lighter dishes we tend to favour in summer months from tomato and feta salads to ratatouille.

Gamay, the great grape behind Beaujolais, is a scented splendid example. Pinot Noir can be pricey, but pick bottles from Romania and be amazed by the quality to price ratio – chill it to bring out its primary fruity finesse.

Italian grapes such as Dolcetto and Frappato can do the business, along with certain examples of Greek Xinomavro, but my tip for the future is to look to English reds. Light on their fruit with serious quality, I reckon chilled reds should be a future specialism of these shores – as long as the sun continues to shine.


LICENCE TO CHILL: Incanta Pinot Noir (12.5%) £5.99*Majestic (*mix six price). Once again nailing it on good value vino with this stunning Romanian Pinot with the right fruity deftness to chill.

COLD AS ICE: Marks and Spencer Garnacha 2019 (14%) £6 M&S. Vibrant berry flavoured brilliance! Robust enough for burgers and light enough to keep cool in the fridge. Lovely wine.

DADDY COOL: Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de la Rocaillere 2017 (13%) £12.25 Berry Bros. & Rudd. For the price, the quality locked into this bottle is a comparative steal. It’s beautifully balanced between zippy red fragrant fruit and more grown up clove spice evolving with those few years in bottle. Served lightly chilled I was smitten – now is the time to crack it open.

ICY, ICY BABY: Múzsa Kadank, Zsirai 2018 (13%) £12.61 www.jascots.co.ukWith an exotic flourish, this is an irresistible red to chill – superb quality and genius winemaking. Tastes like all the red summer fruits joining forces in exuberant coalition. Seek it!


Fleurie André Colonge 2018 (13%) £15.20 tanners-wines.co.uk. Lovely freshness, this is my pitch perfect summer red to chill. Floral and fragrant, sumptuous as sipping wild strawberries, it’s liquid marvellousness. Treat yourself.

This column was originally published online for EVENT, Mail on Sunday, Friday 22nd May 2020