• Lorelei Helmke

Just Chillin'

Red Wines of Summer

Hot summer nights do not mean you have to put aside the red wine and pick up the Sauvignon Blanc. There are some red wines that are fabulous served a bit chilled. Let’s be honest though, the idea of serving a red wine “room temperature” means room temperature Burgundy, France, not San Antonio, Texas.

Chilling a red wine will soften the noticeable alcohol. It will also brighten the acidity and focus your attention on the flavors in the wine. Be careful though…chill a red wine with lots of oak influence and you may be tasting wood until it warms up.

The rule is you can drink lighter styled wines like Pinot Noir at about 53°F, a medium bodied red is well served at 57°F and a bold red can be refreshing at 60°F. These temperatures may not be the invigorating temperature of a cold beer but will refresh the body and accompany well whatever is being grilled for dinner.

Now, let’s go over the best ways to chill that bottle of red wine.

· Place the bottle in an ice bucket for 10-15 minutes

· If your wine is being stored in a place that is about 68°F (cool indoor temperature), place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

· Need it chilled NOW…. 8-10 minutes in the freezer should suffice: set the timer on your phone though!!!!!

There are several chillable red wines. I have assembled three of them to discuss. All of them show beautifully when cold, will satisfy your pallet and leave you refreshed at the same time.


Beaujolais is intended to be served at room temperature, Beaujolais France, that’s about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This brings out the racy acidities and brightens the raspberry flavors. When shopping for Beaujolais, you will find Beaujolais Villages, Cuvee, Special Selections and my favorites Cru Beaujolais. If the label mentions a place - Morgon, Julienas, Fleurie, Brouilly, St. Amour, Chenas, Moulin-a-vent, Regnie, or Cote de Brouilly - it is a Cru Beaujolais. This is the best of Beaujolais and a fantastic value.

The two producers most widely distributed in the United States are Louis Jadot and Georges Duboeuf.

They are not the only ones though. There are some rising stars and smaller producer to look for.

Jean – Marc Burgaud: In the Village of Morgon, in the heart of Beaujolais, Jean Marc Burgaud grows 19 hectares of vines and produces beautiful Chardonnay and Gamay. His 2016 Cote dy Py (Morgon) is rich and intense. A very powerful Beaujolais for all you Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers summer dining pleasure.

Domaines Dominique Piron: Fourteen generations of winemakers have made this Domaine one of the leaders of the region. They implement few technical adaptions in their winemaking process and allow the grapes to express the terroir. Wines from Domaines Dominique Piron offer finesse, elegance and purity.

Barbera d’Asti

Deep in the heart of Piedmont in the Northeast part of Italy, lies the Province d’Asti. Rolling hills and lush valleys join to create one of the most magnificent landscapes on earth. Vineyard after vineyard create breathtaking views that surround some of the world’s most ancient castles and places of worship.

It is here they grow a lesser known red wine that is the quintessential “just drink it” wine. It is not pretentious, does not need the pomp and circumstance we dedicate to big red wines. It’s just a pleasing, lighter-styled red wine wait offers juicy layer of plums, strawberries and plums. These flavors intermingle with a hint of herbs and vanilla usually. This easy style allows for chilling this wine, revealing mouthwatering acidity while keeping the fruit flavors intact.

Producers to look for include:

Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme: Famous Chef Michael Chiarlo sources his grapes from the hills around Nizza Monferrato in the province of Asti to create what has become the most recognized Barbera d’Asti in the market. Year after year this wine earns accolades. His is a medium bodies wine with rich ripe fruit and a touch of grace.

Viette Barbera D’Asti: This winery began producing in 1919 and was one of the first to export its products to the US market. They produce 2 Barbera d’Asti’s, Tre Vigne and La Crena. Tre Vigne, as the name suggests is made from berries of three vineyards in the province while La Crena is a single vineyard bottling. La Crena is on the richer side of Barbera and will hold up to a hearty meal while Tre Vigne will pair well with substantive salads


No, not the pink one……. Full-Bodied RED Zinfandel.

Zinfandel is often referred to as America’s wine. It grows beautifully in places like Lodi, Dry Creek, Sonoma County and Napa Valley. It is the same berry grown as primativo in Italy. During the Gold Rush years, Italian immigrants brought with them cuttings of their native vines and planted them in the new world.

Zinfandel’s bold, fruit forward style offers richness and finesse that satisfies just about every pallet. They can be an approachable red wine for the first time red wine drinker or a complex, structured, fruit bomb for the most experienced oenophile. Because Zinfandel offers huge fruit flavors, it is delicious when chilled.

A couple of producers you can’t go wrong with are:

Seghesio Family – In the late 1800’s Edoardo and Angela Seghesio planted thier first vines. Five generations later, the Seghesio family has become one of the premier producers of zinfandel and other Italian varietals in in California. They offer eleven different zinfandel bottlings and always garner the best press.

Ravenswood – “No Wimpy Wines” Since 1976 winemaker Joel Peterson creates a county series of zinfandels and a single vineyard designate series that showcases the different styles of terroir in California. There is something for everyone in his collections of zinfandel.

Red wine doesn’t have to be brooding and pretentious. You can chill red down and simply enjoy them all summer long on the beach, at the lake or hanging poolside. And if friends arrive, you can always add a little fruit, brandy and Topo Chico for a sangria to share.


Lorelei Helmke

Wine Siren

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