Chill Your Reds

By Jessica Norris Granatiero

I just returned from Narbonne, in the south of France along the Mediterranean coast, about one hour south of Montpellier. While there, I encountered 100 degree weather, a natural partner for light and refreshing chilled white and rosé wines. Since I’m in the wine business, the trip was naturally centered around the enjoyment of pairing wines with local cuisine. However, we were sipping chilled red wines perfectly paired with the cuisine. Chilling red wine is not something with which many are familiar!

I personally love to drink my red wines on the cooler side, and even more so in the summer. Does that mean that all red wines should be chilled? Well, they should be served on the cooler side in general, never warm. But reds best served chilled are those with lower tannins, natural components in wine that also give you that gripping, drying sensation in the mouth. Higher tannins are found in the wines made from the grapes cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese, and nebbiolo. Lighter style red wines with low tannins – pinot noir, grenache, gamay noir, barbera, and lambrusco – are best served chilled and can be enjoyed cool all year, not just during summer.

Here are some of my chillable red picks that are available locally.

Gérard Bertrand Corbieres, France – Corbieres is the region in France from which this wine comes. Like most European wines, the wine’s label shows the name of the region, not the actual grapes inside. So if you are not familiar with the region then you might not know what grapes are used to make the wine. Corbieres is in the south of France, where I was, and the grapes grown there are mostly Grenache, Syrah and another lesser-known grape, Mourvèdre. The wine displays a silky mouthfeel with black cherry and plum notes. It pairs well with burgers topped with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese. Less than $25.

Tre Monti Barbera Frizzante, Emilia Romagna, Italy – Barbera is a grape that produces a red wine lower in tannins. Tre Monti’s is lightly sparkling, also known as frizzante in Italy. You will get beautiful cherry and raspberry frothiness in the mouth upon the first sip, like you are enjoying a rich bowlful of candied cherries. It has a fruity mouthfeel that makes it a great partner for dried or cured meats or fresh summer strawberries with homemade whipped cream. Tre Monti’s owner, Vittorio Navacchia, visits Rhode Island regularly, making the wine even more special.  Less than $20.

Kermit Lynch Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais, France – Beaujolais is the region in France which gives us red wines that are made from the grape gamay noir. Most Beaujolais that does not don “cru” (higher designation level of Beaujolais) on the label are very light in weight. This is one of the classic and best wines with a chill on it. Domaine Dupeuble’s Beaujolais is made from a method called carbonic maceration, in which the grape clusters are placed whole and intact into the tanks to ferment. This is different from the regular method in which the grapes are crushed with the wine. The resulting wine is one of great vibrancy, acidity with notes of fresh Bing cherry, cranberry and raspberry. Quite quaffable it pairs with tomato salads with Feta cheese, grilled shrimp and ceviche. Less than $25.

Rota Lambrusco, Italy – Lambrusco is one of the oldest styles of wines from Italy’s Emilia Romagna and Lombardy. Lambrusco is both the name of the grapes (there are many) and the name of the wine itself. Slightly effervescent, Lambrusco is a lower alcohol wine. The Rota family has been making Lambrusco for more than 100 years and has committed to organic farming and winemaking. This style is made from the Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes. The result is light, vivacious with black cherry, plum and strawberry notes. The effervescence tickles the nose upon the first sip. This is a great partner for cheese and meat boards and grilled turkey burgers. Less than $20.