September 1, 2023

Yes, you CAN chill red wines! Here are six you will love…

Meet the chilled red!….

I recently held a Masterclass on Wines for Summer. As part of that night, I featured red wines that you can chill during the heat of summer. That is right, chilled red! As well as making sure that everyone knew how to keep their red wines in the best serving temperature zone, of course. This is something that many winelovers just don’t consider and it does mean that you might be doing your red wines a real disservice if you have left it in the hot sun during pours.

Or, another way to look at it is that if you are a stickler for only ever drinking red wines…. here is how you can enjoy them all through the summer heat.

Want to know more… read on!

Sparkling Red…

Australia is very well known for its drippingly lush, but also very refreshing, sparkling red. And these are red wines that can be lightly chilled. Some can take a more heavier chill. However, I would suggest that just a light chill here around 12-14 oC is all that is needed.

I recommend d’Arenberg The Peppermint Paddock is a good place to start. Here are some other ripe and delicious Sparkling Shiraz recommendations.

What to look for in Other Chillable Reds

Working out the red wines that you can chill will depend on the alcohol, body and the tannin content of your red.

A ‘light’ chill is 12-14 oC vs cellar temperature of 16-18 oC. A red wine that is over 20oC, is probably going to be noticeably out of balance depending on what it is.

If you over chill your red wine by the way, it will taste hard and acidic. If you leave it sit in the glass and try it again in five minutes, it should have started to relax into the wine as it is meant to be enjoyed. Remember though, it will also have had the benefit of some air contact, or ‘breathing’ so you will also benefit from the wine developing fuller fragrance and flavours through that process too.

(Please note, that by ‘chilled reds’, I do not recommend adding ice cubes to any wine as they will melt and will dilute the wine.)

Why are these elements important in chilled reds?


Because if a wine is too warm, the alcohol becomes unbalanced and the fruit takes on a jamminess. It is actually really important to monitor the temperature of your wines. Any wine that is served too warm has a broad structure and the fruit can look lifeless and dull. Like you are drinking cordial rather than a wine.

Hint: if your big bold red is looking a little ‘too bold’, pop it in an ice bucket for five minutes just to chill it a little and bring it back into balance.

Body, Oak & Tannin – The trio to really watch for!

The fruitiness of any wine is reduced by chilling. That is why some highly perfumed and very concentrated whites are better served colder than a well made Chardonnay.

This means that the fruit flavours are often then ‘hidden’ by other less desirable flavours that add to a wine when it is in balance, but are not all that enjoyable when that is all you can taste in a wine.

A full bodied wine usually has tannins plumping out the body, even if it is unoaked. Tannins do not respond will to chilling. They are in balance at cellar temperature though so around 16-18 oC.

Tannins can become bitter and dominant when served chilled or cold. It then comes as no surprise, that an oaky red will taste like hard sticks if served too cold.

Hence it is very important to work out what works best for you and the wine you are serving.

The wines that work well chilled will be wines with

  • low or no oak
  • low tannins
  • more medium to light bodied wines
  • acidic red wines do well here
  • more moderate alcohols.

Grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cinsault are easy to find and work well with a light chill. Another grape to watch out for is the Sicilian Frappato and the rare example of Piquepoul Noir, from Southern France. These are easy chillers! Figuratively and literally.

Here are some suggestions ….

(click on the title or the pic to see the review for each of these wines)

Nero d’Avola

Pikes Luccio Novello

A very stylish Australian Italian!


Waitrose Loved & Found Frappato

Remarkable value and not your usual chilled red!


Donnafugata Bell’Assai Frappato

Superb balance!


Brown Brothers Tarrango

Piquepoul Noir

Villa Blanche Piquepoul Noir

Something a little bit different.

Gamay & Pinot Noir

Louis Jadot Macon Rouge

A couple of good blenders! And they make a really chilled red!

Incanta Pinot Noir

A fragrant and fruity number from Romania. Yes. Romania!

Don’t forget that bonus extra… The Peppermint Paddock Sparkling Red! It is simply superb!

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This article was originally published 3rd August 2022 and was updated on 1st September 2023 & 8th December 2023.


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