What’s the Deal with Chilling Red Wine?

red wine vs white wine serving temperatures

At Bright Cellars, we’re committed to debunking wine myths, but oftentimes misconceptions are double pronged. We know that the summertime isn’t simply reserved for whites and rosés. Light-bodied red wines are an exceptional choice even when the weather is hot.

But if you are reaching for a red, should red wine be chilled in the summertime? The short answer: yes, but don’t just go tossing red wines in your wine fridge. There’s more to know! We’re sharing the ins and outs of chilling red wine.

Should red wine be chilled? 

When chilling red wine, not all reds should be served at the same temperature. There’s a recommended range of temperatures, based on body. Light red wines are best served around 50-55° while fuller-bodied reds are better served around 65°. 

If you’re aiming for that sweet spot of 50°, toss a light-bodied red in the fridge or an ice bucket for about 30-45 minutes. 

Which red wines are best chilled?

As a rule of thumb, the best “chillable red wines” are light-bodied wines with high acid and low tannin that are generally fruit-forward. Why do we chill them? It’s not only so you can cool off in the hot sun. The true purpose of chilling these styles of wine is to highlight the more elegant fruit and floral notes. We’ve put together a list of our favorite summer reds that fit these characteristics. 

1. Pinot Noir 

Perhaps the most refreshing summer red wine is our dear friend Pinot Noir. With medium-high acidity, low tannins, and fruit-forward notes of cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and clove, Pinot Noir has all the makings of a perfectly chillable red wine. 

Bright Cellars’ Vanishing Act Pinot Noir

For our Bright Cellars lovers out there, we recommend tasting our Vanishing Act Pinot Noir – a classic Oregon Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. You’ll love the aromas of strawberry, cherry, fresh mushroom, and cedar on the finish. Simply contact your Wine Concierge and request it in your next box! 

2. Gamay

Notes of pomegranate and raspberry reign supreme when it comes to Gamay. Best known in Beaujolais (pronounced /bo-shjo-lay/), this prominent region in France thrives on Gamay-based wine. 

Gamay itself is a fruity, floral, and slightly earthy red that’s light in body. It has light to medium tannins and the best examples are naturally high in acidity, making it the perfect candidate for a turn in the wine fridge. 

3. Frappato

This summer red is just as Italian as it sounds. Produced mainly in Sicily, Frappato’s low tannins, light body, and refreshing red fruit characters make it a great summer wine. 

Plus, it pairs well with roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. Can you picture the summer bruschetta and hummus spread as well as we can? 

4. Zweigelt 

Imagine a light-bodied red wine with strong Austrian heritage, and you have Zweigelt. The most planted red wine grape in Austria, Zweigelt is a beloved cross between Blaufränkisch (think black fruits like blackberry and black cherry) and St. Laurent (think Pinot Noir). 

When it comes to chillable characteristics, Zwiegelt leans towards its parent, Pinot Noir, with medium-light body, medium-high acidity, low tannins and bright fruit notes of red cherry and raspberry. 

Bright Cellars’ Albtraum Zweigelt

If you’re a Bright Cellars member, you’re in luck. We currently have a delicious Zweigelt that’s begging to be shown off at your next wine soiree! Contact your Wine Concierge at concierge@brightcellars.com and ask to try our Albtraum Zweigelt – a luscious red with soft tannins and notes of red berries that are rounded out by aromas of anise and bright acidity.

5. Grenache 

Grenache (also known as Garnacha in Spain) is known to be a rich, flavorful red wine with notes of stewed strawberry and plum (could you get any more fruit-forward?) 

While Grenache has a fuller body than some of the other chillable reds we’ve discussed, it flaunts medium tannins and medium acidity, and it does not fall short on the fruit-heavy notes. Since Grenache is a lower acid and higher potential alcohol grape variety, this red wine is better suited for the 55°- 60° range when chilling. 

Bright Cellars’ Worst Evils Grenache

Get in on the Grenache with Bright Cellars’ Worst Evils. Hailing from Mendocino County, this classic Grenache flaunts flavors of candied strawberry and raspberry with warm brown baking spices like cinnamon and star anise.

Other ways to chill red wine fast 

If your dinner guests are en route and you’ve forgotten to toss your favorite Bright Cellars Pinot Noir in the fridge, there’s no need to worry. We’re pros at combating those wine woes! Check out these 5 foolproof ways to chill wine fast

Chilling Red Wines Bundle Get your case of chillable reds 

Lucky for you, we’re running a limited-time member-exclusive deal on chillable reds! These wines were made to appeal to red and white wine lovers alike, combining refreshing crispness with a little added complexity. Lighter in body and bright in flavor, they’re perfect for hot summer temps and dining al fresco.

Half Case (6 bottles) – $118+tax ($110 wine + $8 shipping)
Includes 1 bottle of each wine listed
Full Case (12 bottles) – $208+tax ($208 wine + free shipping!) 
Includes 2 bottles of each wine listed

If you’re a Bright Cellars Members, email concierge@brightcellars.com if you’re interested in purchasing a one-time full or half case shipment of these unique, chillable red wines!

Not yet a member? Follow this link for 50% off your first order of personalized wine matches, and keep an eye out for one-time case deals like this one in the future! Email concierge@brightcellars.com if you have any questions.

In Vino Finito 

Did we miss one of your favorite chillable reds? Let us know in the comments!

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

  1. My favorite chillable red, is Malvasia, but is has been hard to find as of late. The Tetrachroma Pinot Noir arrived in one of my recent cases. Glad to know that it is chillable, will definitely be trying it cold.

  2. I generally find that reds taste better when chilled. We actually just opened a bottle of Albtraum (pictured above) that I had popped in the fridge for about 30 minutes. To me room-temperature reds seem less nuanced and fruity – which is probably because the reds I prefer are what this article describes :). Good to know I was on to something…

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