The Best Red Wines To Chill (And Why You Should)

While the idea of chilling red wine might seem like a horrible blunder to some, it's not as wild as you might expect. In countries like Spain and Greece, chilled red wine is plentiful and a summer staple. This style of serving wine has also become more and more popular in the U.S.

The key to chilling red wine lies in selecting the right type. Temperature can really modify the flavor of a wine, enhancing certain characteristics and diminishing others. Chilling red wine can exaggerate the flavor of tannins, making them taste more aggressive and metallic, but it can also amplify fruitiness, making some wines taste juicier and more refreshing. Therefore, it's important to pick a red wine that is on the lighter side and low in tannins, with bright, fruity flavors. Red wines such as a light pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or gamay are often better suited for chilling.

How chilling reds changes their flavors

There are some exceptions to the idea that only young, light red wines are good for chilling. Madeline Maldonado, the Beverage Director of the Spanish restaurant Mercado Little Spain in New York City, makes a case for medium-bodied Rioja wines, which are fruity but slightly tannic, and primarily made with Tempranillo grapes

"Rioja wines in particular have an intensity that becomes brighter and more alluring once chilled," Maldonado told Food Republic. "The acidity of Rioja wines is ideal for food pairing and once chilled the earthy, spicy, berry notes, and texture of the wines are brought forward."

Maldonado also disagrees with the idea that stronger and more tannic wines can't be chilled. "I actually believe that wines that have oakier characteristics and more tannins benefit way more than wines that don't," Maldonado posits, explaining that chilling wines like this can soften them and bring out their fruitiness.

How to serve chilled red wine

When it comes to chilling red wine, we're not talking about chilling it the same way you would chill a white wine or a rosé. General knowledge assumes that red wine should be served at room temperature, but this idea can be misleading, especially when considering that room temperature can vary significantly. While room temperature is generally considered to be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, your actual room's temperature may depend on a variety of factors.

However, many people suggest that serving red wine five to 15 degrees cooler is actually the sweet spot. Madeline Maldonado recommends serving your wine at a temperature between 58 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the average refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, storing red wine in the fridge will result in the wine being too cold. The Goldilocks solution here is to pop your red wine into a cooler or refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before you plan on serving it, which will bring it down to the optimum temperature. A bonus of this technique is that storing the rest of your red wine in the fridge after opening will slow down oxidation, keeping it drinkable for longer.