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The Best Chilled Red Wines

The Best Chilled Red Wines

What’s the first beverage you reach for on a hot summer’s day when you need something cool and refreshing?  

For decades, rosé—a k a “Hamptons Gatorade”—has been hyped as the go-to drink of summer. 

But as much as we love our blush-toned bottles and the various cocktails that they have spawned, we’ve all consumed our fair share of pink-hued wines. This season, we’re craving something different. That’s where chilled reds come in. 

Chillable red wines have soared in popularity over the past few years and the available options are becoming better and more sophisticated. There are a few reasons for this, ranging from changes in the environment as well as our evolving tastes.  

Gamay—“the ultimate chillable red grape,” says Wine Enthusiast Writer-at–Large Reggie Solomon—is experiencing a boom because the varietal can withstand some of the effects of climate change.  

“Gamay shines best in Beaujolais,” Solomon says. “As global warming raises fruit ripeness and alcohol levels, one can still retreat to Beaujolais for fun and alcohol restraint. Pop a bottle of Beaujolais in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, which brings out the acidity and freshness.” 

Meanwhile, the rise of higher acid, lower abv styles of wine has contributed to a wider breadth of excellent chillable reds. “Led by the natural wine movement, red wines have been getting lighter, brighter and more glug-worthy for years,” says Wine Enthusiast Writer-at-Large Christina Pickard, who reviews wines from Australia and notes that the country is now producing reds that are particularly well suited for chilling.  

“There’re examples of this wine style from all of the nation’s 65 wine regions,” Pickard adds. “Smallfry’s Cinsault from Barossa is a perfect example: Made from a lesser-known variety—and from a region famed for its rich, cellar-worthy reds—it boasts a cute label with a creative name and heaps of crunchy, juicy ‘smashability,’ as the Aussies might say.” 

These chilled reds are wonderful on their own, but they also excel in pairings, according to pros.  

Tonya Pitts, a Wine Enthusiast writer-at-large who reviews wines from Northern California, likes McMannis Pinot Noir, from Lodi. “The rich supple dark berry notes lend themselves to a slight chill,” she says. “Pair the wine with barbecued chicken or meats from the grill—a delicious match with summertime fun.”  

Pitts also likes the “fresh, crushable and chewy red fruits” of Tizona by Bokisch Bechtold Vineyard’s Cinsault. “With a slight chill, it’s a wonderful sipper on a warm day,” she says. “More substantial than a rosé, it’s fantastic on its own or with assorted meats and cheeses. 

But really, these bottles are wonderful at any time of day or year. This is why we’ve rounded up the best chillable reds from around the globe in our buying guide below.  Take a peek.  

Our Chilled Wine Coverage

  • To better understand which red varietals lend themselves to chilling and why, read through A Guide to Chillable Red Wine.” 
  • Beaujolais is one of the great easy drinking wines. In “There’s More than One Way to Beaujolais,” discover what makes it so wonderful. 
  • In “Golden State Gamay Is Here to Stay,” Wine Enthusiast Writer-at-Large Matt Kettmann explores how California producers are turning to the varietal because of climate change. 
  • Master the art of finding the perfect temperature for your warm-weather bottles through “The Do’s and Don’ts of Chilling Wine.” 
  • Bringing your chilled bottle outside? Consider one of Wine Enthusiast’s break-resistant glasses
  • Looking to keep your bottles at their precise peak temperature? The right wine cooler will do that for you. 

In the Shop

Wine Enthusiast Outdoor Portable Cooler and Table


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