The Red Wines That Taste Better Chilled (Not a Typo)

August 18, 2016

Thirteen years ago this week, New York City went dark. Anyone who lived in the city during the “Great Blackout of 2003” will recall it as though it was yesterday. Now, as temperatures rise as they did during that infamous weekend, I double-check that my battery-powered hand-fan is safely tucked in my drawer of miscellaneous items, just below my pile of delivery menus.

When the heat becomes all-consuming and stepping outside an air-conditioned oasis seems like madness, we trade our plans with friends for Netflix and our red wines for crisp, refreshing whites.

But suppose I told you there were refreshing reds that are actually enhanced by a thirty-minute hangout in the fridge? My favorite warm weather wine secret is that summer reds are most delicious when chilled.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

I didn’t know refreshment was color-blind until I tasted my first chilled red. I was minding my own business at a sommelier’s house when she offered me the glass without warning. At first, it was the taste equivalent of an oxymoron: The unexpected temperature confused my taste buds. But once I overcame my initial shock, I realized this might be something I could get behind.

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I’ve always felt that there needed to be a choice between rich smokiness and chilly freshness—like meat off the grill accompanied by a white wine on ice. But now, things have changed: Chilled reds offer both sensations at once.

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Top Comment:
“The Great Blackout of 2003, on the other hand, was 13 years ago, and was definitely a thing.”
— Kate M.

Red wines that are enhanced by a slight chill tend to be light-bodied, with bright acidity and fresh fruit flavors (like raspberries or cherries). The reason these wines often lend themselves to a slight chill is they have all the characteristics that already provide refreshment—lightness, crispness, and a fruity profile—and are enhanced by a cool temperature.

But imagine these are red wines, instead. Photo by James Ransom, Mark Weinberg

Below are my go-to reds that fit this bill:

  • Beaujolais Cru
    The cru wines from Beaujolais are one of the most versatile reds, and they pair beautifully with kebabs and sausages.

  • Zweigelt
    This Austrian red wine has complexity without the weight: The spicy and fruity notes go beautifully with a juicy burger.

  • New Zealand Pinot Noir
    The lighter, fruitier style of Pinot Noir from the South Island of New Zealand will cut through the richness of lamb.

What red wines have you been known to put in the fridge? Tell us in the comments below!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • cassie lance
    cassie lance
  • Gina
  • roko_77
  • HelloThereNicole
  • Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)
    Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)
Tamara Lover, an accredited sommelier, is Co-Founder of a start-up called Bottle Rush, a company democratizing wine by giving everyone their personal wine expert to help them find wines they’ll love, not like, but love. Tamara’s passion for wine began like most wine love affairs – with one delicious bottle of wine. While dining at a restaurant in New York City, the sommelier recommended a wine that would forever change her life. One sip of the Pinot Noir blew her away. By the end of the glass, Tamara knew how she wanted to spend every moment of her spare time - finding that next great bottle of wine. In 2008, Tamara graduated with her WSET Diploma of Wine and Spirits (DWS) from the International Wine Center (IWC). She was also a weekly wine columnist for the Gothamist for five years and inducted as an honorary member of the Compagnons du Beaujolais, a historic Burgundian wine society. Tamara resides in NJ with her husband and two children. Feel free to ask her any wine related questions – especially about her favorite wine hacks.


cassie L. October 16, 2017
Great Article! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post Tamara. I was really looking forward for such kind of information that would narrow down the list of ideas. It really provides me with a clear observation from which I can make my own choices of wines that taste better I really like Zweigelt - Austrian red wine. If anyone wants to learn how to taste a wine, here is a nice blog to learn more about wine Nonetheless you have done a great job! tamara :)
Gina August 30, 2016
Cold red wine is a staple of the Basque American restaurants out here in California. I was skeptical at first, but it really is quite nice!
roko_77 August 24, 2016
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. El vino tinto frio, es el mayor pecado, y muestra de la mayor ignorancia.
Admito que cada persona lo tome como quiere, como es natural.
El tinto FRIO es incorrecto, beberlo. Es de un absoluto desconocimiento. No así para los blancos , los rosados y espumosos.
e dicho.
HelloThereNicole August 18, 2016
I just had my first Lambrusco last night, a sparkling red, and it was a super tasty way to spend a summer evening
Sippity S. August 18, 2016
Lightly chilled reds. Certainly. Iced? Really?
Hannah W. August 18, 2016
You forgot Rioja! I aways drink that chilled and now I know I have three other reds to check out. Thank you, Tamara!
ChefJune August 18, 2016
Hannah, I wouldn't recommend that with an aged Rioja. Just a thought.
Kate M. August 18, 2016
The title may not be a typo, but the second sentence is. The Great Blackout of 2013 is not a thing, and also if you think that was 13 years ago please surrender your time travel equipment immediately. The Great Blackout of 2003, on the other hand, was 13 years ago, and was definitely a thing.
Tamara L. August 19, 2016
You are so very correct Kate. It should clearly have stated 2003. My apologies for the typo. Ah, the irony of the title.