A meaty glass of red wine is one of life's greatest pleasures. And it's easy to plonk a bottle straight from the wine rack onto the dinner table. Unlike white wine which needs a good chilling in the fridge, red wine makes sense at room temp, right?
No. Not always.
In Australia, our room temp isn't always ideal. When Steve Smith and the Aussie XI are punishing the Kiwis on a sunbaked MCG, your wine rack might be sitting in a room that's 25 degrees. And a Shiraz served at room temperature on a warm summer night may look sophisticated as hell, but it's actually a furry proposition. The tannins (that puckering dryness) will be exploding. The wine will taste overly rich and alcoholic and at $30+ a bottle, ain't nobody got time for hot wine. You'll end up wishing you'd wasted your tastebuds on a Midori Sunrise instead. Yuk.
Numbers of red wine sales are booming with two-thirds of us now preferring to slurp red over white. Still the big guys pump out the same beastly reds they always have. This is where you can get creative and with our help, find the wines that can be drunk chilled in the middle of the Aussie run chase.
You read right. Red wine. Chilled.
Lighter reds that taste great from the fridge include Pinot Noir, Gamay and Montepuliciano. How cold you ask? Experiment to find what you like but aim for 10 to 14 degrees. Give it 20 minutes in the fridge before serving. Chilled reds generally taste spicier. Less powerful. With fruit flavours that are more like cherry and red berry. Refreshing for a hot day.
Next in line are the medium bodied varieties and blends, with many to choose from: Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and Sangiovese. Pop them in the fridge for 20 minutes and serve them with caprese salad and you'll notice how fresh the wine becomes.
When it comes to the big guns – full bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Merlot, are best avoided. If served above ideal temperature they take on hot and alcoholic characteristics. The fruit flavours will resemble raisins. You can tell if they're too hot by the taste - they'll seem overly rich and mouth coating. If that's all you have in the wine rack, it's not the end of the world, just be gentle with the chilling and keep a cold glass of water on hand.
Our tips for cooling things down on a hot day? If you can't find the fridge, break ranks and throw a cube of ice in there. Give it a swirl. Leave the ice in for a minute while people look at you quizzically and then fish it out and discard it. Bringing the temperature of the wine down will allow its best expression, as the winemaker intended, and the most satisfying feeling for you.
Rules are made to be broken. Stick to the light bodied reds and get into some serious cool summer drinking, you red head.