here is a trend of making delicious young reds, light-bodied, fruit-forward with low tannins, that definitely benefit from a light chill.
When springtime arrives, the shelves are packed with the new vintages of rosés and white wines traditionally highly consumed in the hot season. They are beautiful to the eye, very refreshing as they are to be served lightly chilled. However, when we think about red wine, we always think it needs to be consumed at "room temperature" although, well, 18º C / 64º F is probably not a comfortable temperature today but it was the average room temperature when this standard was born.
Temperature affects how we appreciate the wine with our senses. Warmer temperatures accentuate the alcoholic sensation, structure, and layers of the wine, hinder the acidity, and tempers the tannins. On the other hand, cooler temperatures bring out the acidity, even the nuances of the wine, lower the alcoholic feeling and make the tannins stand out.
The most complex reds, matured in oak, highly alcoholic, benefit from further development in the bottle and are better consumed at the famous "Chambre" temperature, or maybe 1 or 2 degrees celsius less, or else the experience would be suboptimal.
On the other hand, there is an up-and-coming trend of making delicious young reds, light-bodied, fruit-forward with low tannins, that definitely benefit from a light chill (13-14º C or 55-56º F). It is gaining traction fast as people demand more refreshing wines with less alcoholic content and fruity and floral flavors. For starters, we have the Pinot Noir. This varietal is thin-skinned, resulting in light-bodied, medium-colored, and medium alcoholic wines. And even though they are often matured in barrels, they're generally medium to low in tannins, meaning that they won't overpower the flavors when chilled. This is especially the case with the PN from the US, such as Meiomi or La Crema Sonoma Coast.
Another varietal that fits the bill is the Gamay, used in Beaujolais wines. These are made through the carbonic maceration method, limiting the contact of the juice with the skins and the tannic parts of the fruit. As a result, these wines are well known for being medium-bodied, medium alcoholic, and medium color. In addition, Beaujolais wines have typical banana, bubble gum, and fruity flavors, which are delicious and complementary to a chilled wine. A couple of good examples to try are Les Violettes Gamay (Barton & Guestier) or Passeport Beaujolais Gamay.
Valpolicella wines are made with the Corvina varietal, another thin-skinned and low tannic varietal. It is high in acidity, thus making it the most refreshing at a chilled temperature. These wines are very fruity, reminiscing of cherries and red fruit, and are made to drink immediately. If you want to give it a try, you can try Zenatto Ripassa Valpoliccela Ripasso Superiore, or maybe Rocca Alata Amarone della Valpolicella.
A less known but equally exciting varietal is the Sicilian Frappato. Known as the "Sicilian Pinot Noir," the Frappato produces wines that are low in tannins medium in alcohol, with high acidity and a marked fruit flavor: cherries, candied cherries, citrus, and flower aromas are predominant. A couple of interesting examples are Cos Frappato Di Vittoria, or Planeta Frappato.
The Austrian Zweigelt is also a different option. The Zweigelt wines are low in tannins and medium in alcohol, with deep red color and flavors to bramble fruit. A good example could be Unplugged Zweigelt (Hans Reen), or the Special Selection Blauer Zweigelt (Lenz Moser)
Another not-so-obvious choice is the reds made with Grenache, which is usually high in alcohol. However, if harvested a bit earlier in time, they give medium acidity, low tannin wines that delight the senses. An excellent example of this is Viña Zorzal.
Mencía, an endemic grape from the northwest of Spain, is also known for producing lively young red wines, fruity, acidic, and perfect for the Summer, with flavors of spices and pomegranate.
Probably the best-known grape in Italy, the Sangiovese is known for its mouthwatering wines, with hints of tea leaves and red fruits.
Bobal, a less known Spanish variety yet the second most planted red, is also suitable for light wines due to its fresh acidity, medium to low body, fruity flavors, and velvety tannins.
Besides the inner characteristics of the grapes, the winemaker's choices influence the final product. Bringing forward the harvesting time keeps the acidity level high and the sugars at bay, the result being fresh, less alcoholic wines. In this manner, the oenologist can obtain light wines from varietals famous for being highly alcoholic and intensely tannic.
Some Merlots from Bordeaux are made in a fresh style. If the grape is harvested earlier, the wines have medium body and low alcohol and herbal and leafy flavors that can benefit from chilling. Two good examples of this are Chateau Lamothe-Vincent Merlot Bordeaux and Robert Giraud Chateau LeBocage Monastrell wines are high in alcohol and tannins and usually need some oak maturation to tame their chalky tannins. But when harvested earlier, the acidity is preserved. The sugars are lower and combined with a controlled extraction and exposure to the skins, giving medium alcoholic medium-bodied wines that are better chilled. So is the case of Parajes del Valle Monastrell, a young wine with low tannins and high acidity that will surprise you.
What about you? Do you like young, fresh, fruit-forward chilled reds, or do you stick to whites and rosés in the Summer?