Licence to Chill: Light Red Wines to Enjoy your Way this Summer

There are several things you must never do to red wine: waste it and mix it with milk come to mind, but putting it in the fridge is definitively not on the list. Of course, by no means I’m suggesting you grab that big, tannic, aged Bordeaux you’ve been saving for a special occasion and serve it at Gin & Tonic temperature, but let’s be honest: a light, fruity red on a hot July evening was not born to be drunk at 18°C.

To chill or not to chill? The good news is, far from being a rule, this has become a matter of preference and as a general principle, reds with low tannins and little or no barrel ageaing are eligible for a quick trip to the fridge prior to their enjoyment.

Regardless of whether you decide to have them at room temperature or a few degrees cooler (not too cool, let’s say a few degrees above what’d you choose for a white wine), if you’re a red wine drinker and are looking for something light but flavourful to sip this summer, there are a few regions and varieties worth keeping in mind.

If you love them fruity and easy to drink, you can head South to Chile or New Zealand for a lean and juicy Pinot Noir in a New World fashion. You could also treat yourself to a bright and intense PN from California or go Old World style and head to the trope codifier for fine Pinot Noir, Burgundy.

But this grape doesn’t hold the monopoly on soft tannins and silky berries bonanza. Just south of Burgundy, there’s Beaujolais, Gamay station. A region once known mostly for its November publicity stunt, but nowadays valued by wine lovers in search of something authentic and affordable (at least compared to its famous neighbour). If you wish for more complexity in your Bojo, opt for Crus, among which Fleurie or Morgon are not hard to find in Ireland.

Many young Spanish reds will also quench your thirst for a very cherry experience in your glass. Tempranillo and Garnacha are two grapes that can become mighty age-worthy reds, but in their youth, they are often juicy and fresh unaged tapas friendly sips.

Regions whit high altitude or very septentrional (or austral, if they come from the southern hemisphere) tend to be good grounds for lighter delicate reds as well. Think about it: with less heat, there’s less ripening and therefore less sugar to eventually turn into alcohol. That’s why Germany, Alsace and Chile’s Bio Bio and Itata Valley are also places to put on your radar.

Don’t feel like undusting the mapa-mundi? Check out the recommendations below for light red wines to love this summer.


red wines for the summerBeaujolais Villages

12.5% ABV

€7.99 – Available at Lidl

This is a very friendly red that might even convert the white wine drinkers in the house.

Low tannins, moderate acidity and a lean and juicy palate, showcasing the liveliness of the Gamay grape.

Red plums, ripe strawberries and raspberries star the parade. Don’t let its amazing value be the only reason to pick it up.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir

14% ABV

€11.99 – Available at SuperValu, Molloys Liquor Stores

A smooth and lively Pinot Noir from Chile’s Central Valley.

Light and easy to drink, it has soft tannins and pleasant notes of strawberry and red summer fruits.

It is a very good entry level Pinot Noir, and while it comes from a very large winery, it is made following sustainable practices.

Engine Room Sparkling Shiraz

13.5% ABV

€24.99 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence

This unusual red is fizzy and meant to be drank chilled.

It comes from the McLaren Valley in Australia, a country in which this style of wine is popular and a frequent appearance in BBQs.

Tasting-wise, think of a fresh black forest gateau, with a mix of cherries and dark chocolate leading, along with notes of blackberries and hint of sweet spices.

Matsu “El Picaro”

14.5% ABV

€15.95 – Available at Green Man Wines, Baggot Street Wines and Mitchell & Son

Its name can be translated from Spanish as “the cheeky one.”

It is a biodynamic red coming from the Toro region, in Castilla y León, north-western Spain, made from Tempranillo grapes.

With only 3 months of ageing in French oak barrels, it still has its vibrant fruity power, with a hint of toast and spice adding to the cherry and pomegranate party.

Potel-Aviron Fleurie

13% ABV

€20 – Available at Celtic Whiskey Shop, Baggot Street Wines

Fleurie is one of the ten Beaujolais Crus and it’s perhaps one of the most popular.

This classic example goes beyond the pleasant fruitiness to offer more complexity: a mineral-like sharpness and a pinch of pepper complement the summer berries character and a violet note adds to its beauty.

With smooth tannins but a high concentration of flavour.

Wenzel Blaufrankisch

12.5% ABV

€26.95 – Available at Green Man Wines

Michael Wenzel’s family has a history in winemaking that traces back to the 17th century.

This elegant and organic Blaufrankisch is made in Burgenland, Austria, where the variety is one of the most important for red wines.

On the palate, it shows a dark fruit character, with fresh blackberries, plums and a delicate earthiness harmoniously coming together.

Lingenfelder Fox Label Dornfelder 2010

12.5% ABV

€15.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine

This German red comes from a family-run winery in the region of Pfalz.

It offers an interesting taste of a red that is light and with plenty of fruity vibrancy, but that has gained complexity with the years.

It’s character combines red ripe cherries with a gentle hint of forest floor and leaves. As it aged in very old, large oak casks, the fruit is not overpowered by wood.


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