The 5 Best Red Wines for Summer

Red wine can be enjoyed any time of the year! These 5 summer red wines are great for sipping at backyard BBQs, picnics, or while relaxing on the patio.

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The solstice is coming up on June 20th, and you know what that means: Summer is coming. As you adjust to the changing weather and rituals of the new season, it’s natural to adjust your wine selection as well, but don't forget about red wines altogether! Summer red wines are great for days spent on the patio, at the beach, and around picnic tables. Everyone knows that a hot day calls for a cool drink. But if you think that means that you need to hide your red wine in the back of the pantry until September, think again.

Red wine tastes great with some of your favorite bbq food and you can drink it chilled. This is basically the definition of having your cake and eating it too. The key is to know which red wines will be the most enjoyable at cooler temperatures. So, which bottles should you pick? We’ve got you covered. Check out the five best red wines to drink in the summertime.

Summer red wine by the water

Tips for Picking the Right Rouge

First things first: Pick a red that tastes good when it’s chilled. If you were under the impression that red wine should be served at room temperature, think again. Red wine actually tastes best slightly chilled. Not all reds should be served at exactly the same temperature – there’s a range.

Light red wines are best at around 50° degrees and full-bodied reds should be served around 65°. So, for maximum cooling potential, go with a lighter red. Light-bodied reds with low tannins will taste best after about 30-45 minutes in the fridge or an ice bucket.

Next, consider the wine’s aromas and acidity. A light-bodied red with bright fruity notes and a decent amount of acidity is ideal in hot weather (compared to a full-bodied red with earthy notes). Plus, light fruity red varietals tend to pair well with a variety of foods. Finally, if you’re day-drinking, you may also want to consider choosing a lower-alcohol wine.

The Top 5 Red Wines for Summer

These wines come from all over the world – from both warm and cool climates. They’re perfect for summer afternoon picnics and dinner parties. 

1. Pinot Noir

This light red wine with medium acidity is great on a hot summer day, and pairs well with anything from turkey burgers to grilled salmon. Oregon Pinot Noir tends to have bright fruity notes of cherry and raspberry, which makes it a delightful choice when you’re sitting on a patio before dinner.

2. Beaujolais

Gamay grapes are grown just south of Burgundy in France, where they’re used to make Beaujolais – a light-bodied wine with notes of pomegranate, potting soil, and banana. Beaujolais pairs well with a wide range of food, including barbecue beef and cedar-plank salmon. Gamay-based wines from other parts of the world, including Oregon and Switzerland, are also great choices on a hot day.

3. Grenache

Known as Garnacha in Spain, Grenache is a medium-bodied red with notes of stewed strawberries, grilled plums, and dried herbs. Spanish Garnacha tends to have a higher ABV than French Rhône blends, but both are great alongside a summertime meal. Grenache pairs well with roasted meats and spiced veggies.

4. Lambrusco

A rare sparkling red wine, Lambrusco is light-bodied with notes of strawberries and hibiscus. This Italian red wine will go beautifully with everything from nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano at the appetizer table to summer entrees like pizza, burgers, and sauerkraut-covered hotdogs.

5. Zweigelt

While you may not have heard of it, Zweigelt is the most popular red grape in Austria. This light red wine is bright, fruity, and slightly tart with notes of raspberry and sour cherry. It pairs well with just about everything at a picnic, from barbecue chicken to macaroni salad.

Summer red wine - a woman grabs a glass of red wine on the dock while she swims

In Vino Finito

Remember to decant your summertime reds to bring out the best taste. If you’d like to branch out from these five varietals, look for another light-bodied red wine to bring to your summer barbecue. 
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