If you find yourself hankering after a glass of red wine on a warm sunny day, you’re not alone! Though many instinctively reach for a crisp white or rosé, there’s a growing appreciation of light red wines for summer, and the types of reds that can be chilled down.

Anyone who has spent time in Australia will probably already be sold on chilled reds and, with our increasingly warm summers, it’s certainly a trend which is becoming more mainstream here in the UK. Serving lightly chilled red wines that go with summer salads for example, opens up lots of interesting possibilities for enhancing our warm weather enjoyment of both wine and food.

However, it doesn’t work for all reds and there are some key rules to stick to if you want to avoid a failed red wine chilling experiment!

  • Light wines with bright fruit are by far the best reds for chilling. Look for wines with low tannins and which preferably have spent little to no time in oak. Chilling enhances the refreshing and vibrant qualities of the fruit but can make oak and tannins more overwhelming, so the more unmasked fruit character the better. Pinot Noir, Beaujolais and Valpolicella Classico are good places to start.
  • Only chill your reds slightly, as too low a temperature will deaden rather than enhance flavour. Cellar temperature can be ideal but, unless you have an underground wine cellar at your disposal, pop your chosen light red in the fridge for around 30mins before serving. A serving temperature of somewhere between 10-14˚ is what you’re aiming for to best enjoy a chilled red on a hot summers’ day.


Here are some suggestions for light red wines for summer, which provide the perfect accompaniment to seasonal salads enjoyed alfresco, and lazy garden picnics.

Capitano del Palio Dolcetto: Summer in a glass, this is all bright red fruit and floral notes. This would be the perfect partner for a platter of cured meats and cheeses when the wine is served slightly chilled.

Artuke Rioja: Rioja usually wouldn’t be a great choice for chilling, but this modern, completely unoaked wine from the brilliant Bodegas Artuke is an exception in so many ways. Bursting with fresh strawberry, raspberry and cherry notes, this is lively and easy drinking. Chill and enjoy with homemade quiche, tapas, or a bowl of mussels.

Chenas Tradition du Bois de la Salle: Chenas is a small appellation within Beaujolais. Here, the gamay grape gives generous, soft wines with notes of roses and spice. This is a perfect red to chill and enjoy with a ‘ploughmans’ style meal of pâte, cold pie, cheeses, and crusty bread.

Hawksdrift Pinot Noir: A vibrant, fruit-forward Pinot Noir with strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavours, followed by layers of herbs and spices. This is light and fresh yet sophisticated, with a nicely rounded finish. Serve lightly chilled with simple pasta dishes, fresh mackerel, or Cornish scallops.  

Tinto de Abel, Dominio de la Vega: Made from 100% Bobal grapes, this is bright garnet in colour, with layers of red fruit which linger long in the mouth. We’d serve this slightly chilled with Moroccan-style chicken skewers or chargrilled vegetables hot off the BBQ, and an array of colourful salads for the perfect summer feast.