What’s the Deal with Chilling Red Wine?

Should red wines be chilled? The short answer: yes, but don’t go tossing any red wine in your fridge. Here are the ins and outs of chilling red wine.

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At Bright Cellars, we’re committed to debunking wine myths, but oftentimes misconceptions are double pronged. We know that the summertime isn’t simply reserved for whites and rosés. Light-bodied red wines are an exceptional choice even when the weather is hot.

But if you are reaching for a red, should red wine be chilled in the summertime? The short answer: yes, but don’t just go tossing red wines in your wine fridge. There’s more to know! We’re sharing the ins and outs of chilling red wine.

Should red wine be chilled?

When chilling red wine, not all reds should be served at the same temperature. There’s a recommended range of temperatures, based on body. Light red wines are best served around 50-55° while fuller-bodied reds are better served around 65°.

If you’re aiming for that sweet spot of 50°, toss a light-bodied red in the fridge or an ice bucket for about 30-45 minutes.

Which red wines are best chilled?

As a rule of thumb, the best “chillable red wines” are light-bodied wines with high acid and low tannin that are generally fruit-forward. Why do we chill them? It’s not only so you can cool off in the hot sun. The true purpose of chilling these styles of wine is to highlight the more elegant fruit and floral notes. We’ve put together a list of our favorite summer reds that fit these characteristics.

1. Pinot Noir

Perhaps the most refreshing summer red wine is our dear friend Pinot Noir. With medium-high acidity, low tannins, and fruit-forward notes of cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and clove, Pinot Noir has all the makings of a perfectly chillable red wine.

For our Bright Cellars lovers out there, we recommend tasting our Vanishing Act Pinot Noir - a classic Oregon Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. You’ll love the aromas of strawberry, cherry, fresh mushroom, and cedar on the finish. Simply contact your Wine Concierge and request it in your next box!

2. Gamay

Notes of pomegranate and raspberry reign supreme when it comes to Gamay. Best known in Beaujolais (pronounced /bo-shjo-lay/), this prominent region in France thrives on Gamay-based wine.

Gamay itself is a fruity, floral, and slightly earthy red that’s light in body. It has light to medium tannins and the best examples are naturally high in acidity, making it the perfect candidate for a turn in the wine fridge.

3. Frappato

This summer red is just as Italian as it sounds. Produced mainly in Sicily, Frappato’s low tannins, light body, and refreshing red fruit characters make it a great summer wine.

Plus, it pairs well with roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. Can you picture the summer bruschetta and hummus spread as well as we can?

4. Zweigelt

Imagine a light-bodied red wine with strong Austrian heritage, and you have Zweigelt. The most planted red wine grape in Austria, Zweigelt is a beloved cross between Blaufränkisch (think black fruits like blackberry and black cherry) and St. Laurent (think Pinot Noir).

When it comes to chillable characteristics, Zwiegelt leans towards its parent, Pinot Noir, with medium-light body, medium-high acidity, low tannins and bright fruit notes of red cherry and raspberry.

If you’re a Bright Cellars member, you’re in luck. We currently have a delicious Zweigelt that’s begging to be shown off at your next wine soiree! Contact your Wine Concierge at concierge@brightcellars.com and ask to try our Albtraum Zweigelt - a luscious red with soft tannins and notes of red berries that are rounded out by aromas of anise and bright acidity.

5. Grenache

Grenache (also known as Garnacha in Spain) is known to be a rich, flavorful red wine with notes of stewed strawberry and plum (could you get any more fruit-forward?)

While Grenache has a fuller body than some of the other chillable reds we’ve discussed, it flaunts medium tannins and medium acidity, and it does not fall short on the fruit-heavy notes. Since Grenache is a lower acid and higher potential alcohol grape variety, this red wine is better suited for the 55°- 60° range when chilling.

Get in on the Grenache with Bright Cellars’ Worst Evils. Hailing from Mendocino County, this classic Grenache flaunts flavors of candied strawberry and raspberry with warm brown baking spices like cinnamon and star anise.

Other ways to chill red wine fast


If your dinner guests are en route and you’ve forgotten to toss your favorite Bright Cellars Pinot Noir in the fridge, there’s no need to worry. We’re pros at combating those wine woes! Check out these 5 foolproof ways to chill wine fast.


In Vino Finito

Did we miss one of your favorite chillable reds? Let us know in the comments!

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