Stay cool with chilled red wine

Red wines with lots of juicy aromatic fruit that are low in tannins and alcohol (12% or less) do well when chilled. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Red wines with lots of juicy aromatic fruit that are low in tannins and alcohol (12% or less) do well when chilled. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Krista Slater

Credit: Krista Slater

As you head out to the grill this Fourth of July weekend, may we suggest putting some red wine in the cooler?

Despite grilled meats and vegetables going well with red wine, we find it hard to crave a full-bodied red under sweltering heat and humidity. We want refreshment. However, a cold sauvignon blanc and barbecue are not a great pairing. This is where we enlist the chillable red.

This style of wine is experiencing a resurgence, although it has been around a long time in Europe. These wines can be made from a traditionally light-bodied grape, such as gamay, mission or kadarka. While not mainstream grapes, they have been used for centuries to make delicate, less aggressive reds.

Chill-worthy reds also can be the result of winemaking decisions. For instance, co-fermented wine is on the rise right now. Co-fermenting is taking red and white grapes and throwing them together in one fermentation, resulting in a light, juicy hybrid that sometimes feels more like a very full-bodied rosé.

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Another technique that results in a lighter style of red is carbonic maceration; essentially, the grapes are not pressed, but instead are allowed to ferment gently from the inside out. The most famous wine made in this manner is Beaujolais nouveau, the light yet highly aromatic young French red that is released around Thanksgiving. It’s a celebratory wine that is at its best lightly chilled.

When pairing with food, we find chillable reds go well with the sweet and spicy sauces of grilled chicken and ribs, and are a refreshing foil to a salty hot dog. They also do well with foods ranging from sausage pizza to spicy tofu. And, unlike your favorite sauvignon blanc or delicate rosé, if a chilled red warms up a bit in the summer sun, it isn’t so tart as to be off-putting.

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Some people find it hard to crave a full-bodied red wine under sweltering heat and humidity. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Some people find it hard to crave a full-bodied red wine under sweltering heat and humidity. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Krista Slater

Credit: Krista Slater

Here is a trio of reds that will pair nicely with your cookout. Just throw them on ice — or in the freezer — for 5-10 minutes. Look for these labels at specialty wine shops.

Sfera Rosso NV, Lombardy, Italy — This juicy, chillable red is made by Frecciarossa, a winery in Lombardy, in collaboration with Portovino Imports and small organic farmers throughout Italy. A quirky, cool co-ferment of mostly red grapes and a dash of riesling, this is Hawaiian Punch for adults. As a bonus, it comes in a liter, the perfect party size.

Monte Rio Cellars Mission 2020, Lodi, California — This is a taste of old California from longtime sommelier turned winemaker Patrick Cappiello. It’s made from mission grape vines (called pais in Spain) that are more than 80 years old. It uses the first European grape cultivated in California. The very light style is a result of both the nature of the grape and carbonic maceration. We highly recommend pairing it with pulled pork or sweet and spicy ribs.

Claus Preisinger Puszta Libre 2020, Burgenland, Austria — This chiller is a blend of zweigelt and St. Laurent grapes, and is a bit richer in color and body. It’s a good introduction to cold red for drinkers who generally prefer a fuller-bodied style. We adore this with burgers and brats, as well as brisket or steak tacos.

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