Thirteen years ago this week, New York City went dark. Anyone who lived in the city during the “Great Blackout of 2003” will recall it as though it was yesterday. Now, as temperatures rise as they did during that infamous weekend, I double-check that my battery-powered hand-fan is safely tucked in my drawer of miscellaneous items, just below my pile of delivery menus.
When the heat becomes all-consuming and stepping outside an air-conditioned oasis seems like madness, we trade our plans with friends for Netflix and our red wines for crisp, refreshing whites.
But suppose I told you there were refreshing reds that are actually enhanced by a thirty-minute hangout in the fridge? My favorite warm weather wine secret is that summer reds are most delicious when chilled.
Photo by Mark Weinberg
I didn’t know refreshment was color-blind until I tasted my first chilled red. I was minding my own business at a sommelier’s house when she offered me the glass without warning. At first, it was the taste equivalent of an oxymoron: The unexpected temperature confused my taste buds. But once I overcame my initial shock, I realized this might be something I could get behind.
I’ve always felt that there needed to be a choice between rich smokiness and chilly freshness—like meat off the grill accompanied by a white wine on ice. But now, things have changed: Chilled reds offer both sensations at once.
Red wines that are enhanced by a slight chill tend to be light-bodied, with bright acidity and fresh fruit flavors (like raspberries or cherries). The reason these wines often lend themselves to a slight chill is they have all the characteristics that already provide refreshment—lightness, crispness, and a fruity profile—and are enhanced by a cool temperature.
But imagine these are red wines, instead.
Photos by James Ransom, Mark Weinberg
Below are my go-to reds that fit this bill:
The cru wines from Beaujolais are one of the most versatile reds, and they pair beautifully with kebabs and sausages.
This Austrian red wine has complexity without the weight: The spicy and fruity notes go beautifully with a juicy burger.
New Zealand Pinot Noir
The lighter, fruitier style of Pinot Noir from the South Island of New Zealand will cut through the richness of lamb.