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Summer Reds : thinking beyond White and Rosé

Posted on 9th July 2018 by JN Wine

Summer Reds : thinking beyond White and Rosé

As we revel in the most welcome yet uncharacteristic sizzle of a summer heatwave in this part of the world many would be forgiven for thinking that the only suitable candidates for an accompanying tipple come in the form of light, fresh whites and rosés across the board (not to mention bubbles). There are, however, many suitable red accompaniments to be found in a relatively broad spectrum of styles, derived from an even broader range of varieties and regions that can be enjoyed in their own right or as pairings to summery dishes. Here’s a few pointers to remember along with suitable examples for when you’re next looking for a “Summer Red”:


Don’t be afraid to chill your wine!
It could be said that, in general, we drink our red wines too warm and our white wines too cold in the UK & Ireland. Chilling a ‘room temperature’ red wine for 25-30 minutes should bring it down to 12-16°C, tightening up the tannins, bringing the primary fruit flavours more into focus and making the presence of alcohol less apparent, all of which contribute to a more refreshing glass of wine more suited to sultry weather.



The ‘Simpler’ the better
As a general rule of thumb, simpler wines that are restricted predominantly to primary flavours and aromas (fruit/herbal/floral notes) benefit most from chilling. Varietals that are naturally high in tannin (Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Mouvèdre, Petite Sirah etc) or wines that have been subject to significant oak-aging (particularly new or nearly-new oak) – and so display more secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours – can appear too tightly-wound, austere and astringent if chilled down too much (ie. sub 16°C), as the primary flavours and aromas become muted and secondary and tertiary one’s become amplified. Therefore low-tannin varieties like Pinot Noir, Barbera, Gamay and unoaked Grenache and simple styles such as Valpolicella Classico are generally most suitable and most forgiving when chilled and will display crunchy, refreshing fruit flavours that compliment balmy evenings.


…don’t be too afraid of tannin!
Tannin in wine is not expressed uniformly. Tannin resides in the skin, seeds and stems of grapes and when a wine is fermented on these parts of the grape both tannin and colour are extracted. Tannin in wine should be considered from the sum of the inherent tannin in the grape variety being expressed, their ripeness and the winemaking techniques that have been implemented to influence the textural feel of the wine. For example, a young wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon in a poor vintage with unripe tannin that has seen little-to-no oak aging may feel thin, austere and green in the mouth, whereas a more aged wine also made from Cabernet Sauvignon in a strong vintage with ripe tannin that has seen more extensive oak aging will seem more integrated, plush and round in the mouth. There are a number of ways to achieve this other than the above, but often plush, ripe tannin in wine will result in a silky mouthfeel which can take on a yoghurt-like, smooth freshness when chilled down and can make for an interesting summer tipple – pairing particularly well with barbecued foods. Think Californian Zinfandel, South Australian Shiraz, Argentinian Malbec, Languedoc Grenache/Syrah-heavy blends and easy-drinking style Portuguese Douro reds. A cool, silky red offset against piping hot, chargrilled meat in the scorching sun is a match made in heaven!

Here are a few certified “Summer Reds” from our portfolio that we believe tick all the above boxes in providing a perfect accompaniment to your summer quaffing requirements!

Familia Martinez Bujanda Joven 2017 – £8.95

‘Les Dissidents’ L’Idiot 2017 – £10.99

Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera D’Asti 2016 – £12.49

Domaine Rochette Beaujolais Villages 2015 – £11.99

Hesketh Small Parcels Negroamaro 2016 – £13.99

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016 – £28.95

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