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Chilled Reds: A Glass Best Served Cold

chilled red wines

Forget what you think you know about serving temperature and red wine. Trendmakers, wine writers, and restaurants are all embracing the idea that favorite reds can be served at cooler temps for a more refreshing summertime sip.

That’s great news for red wine lovers, who often leave their favorite bottles corked during the year’s hottest months. When chilled, a red wine can be just as refreshing—the trick is to choose the right bottle.

How it works: A wine’s flavor comes from millions of molecules, which move faster when the wine’s temperature rises and slow down as the temperature falls. The result? Most aromas and certain flavors, including the sensation of alcohol, are muted in a cold wine. Instead, acidity and tannins along with primary fruit flavors show more prominently. That’s why the best red wines to drink chilled are those lower in tannins and lighter-bodied, with more fruit flavors than earth and spice.

The best wines to serve chilled

Lambrusco

This playful Italian sparkling wine has a dark crimson color and structured tannins, but its bright fruit flavors, ranging from strawberry and pomegranate to plum and blackberry, make it particularly delicious when chilled.

Lambrusco recommendation: Roscato Rosso Dolce

Beaujolais

Made from the Gamay grape in the south of Burgundy, Beaujolais wines are light in body and tannins, with bright raspberry and cheery flavors that show even when the wine is chilled. As it warms, look for fragrant iris, peony, and violet aromas.

Beaujolais recommendation: Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

Pinot Noir

Delicate and graceful, pinot noir shows rose petal and violet aromatics along with red raspberry and earth flavors. When chilled, the brighter fruit notes and acidity shine through, while the wine’s graceful tannins prevent astringency or harshness.

Pinot noir recommendation: Meiomi Pinot Noir

Zinfandel

California’s signature red wine varietal, zinfandel can be quite a powerhouse. But beneath its dense blackberry jam and ripe plum flavors lies a bright blackberry bramble note that shines through when chilled.


Lighter red wines are typically served from 55°F to 60°F, while whites are served at 50°F or less. Chill a red wine just as you would a white:

  • Ice it down: Fill a bucket with a mixture of ice and water rather than ice alone; this creates a greater surface area to cool the wine more efficiently.
  • Refrigerate: Chill a bottle in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes, or place in the freezer for 15 minutes—though be careful to remember the bottle. You can inadvertently crack it as the wine expands while chilling.

red wine in glasses

“It’s easier to warm up a glass of wine that’s too cold than cool down a glass that’s too warm. Better to err on the cool side, and if the wine is too cool, cup the glass with your hand to warm it.”

The paper towel trick: Wet a paper towel, then wrap it tightly around the bottle. Stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes—the paper towel freezes and chills the wine more quickly.

Publix promotes responsible drinking and supports efforts to fight alcohol abuse and underage drinking. Please visit the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility at www.responsibility.org for more information.