News flash: We are in the “Dog Days of Summer”, or “High Summer”, as it was called in the Old South. Whatever you call the scorching period between early July and mid-August, it’s time to chill your wines.
This includes refreshing red wines. Forget the myth that cooling the reds means killing the reds. Lighter, less alcoholic, less tannic, less woody red wines are doing well chilled. And, yes, you can even put an ice cube in your glass if you wish.
Some chillable reds:
► The delicate tannins of Cinsault and its flavors of strawberry and cherry come out well when chilled.
► Gamay, best known for its use in Beaujolais. Cool its lighter iterations.
► New World Pinot Noirs with lighter bodies and fruitier approaches work well. Heavier Pinot Noirs, including low-end, mass-produced Pinot Noir, don’t do as well.
► Zweigelt, Austria’s most planted red, brings cherries and chocolate and sweet tannins to the chilled red strategy.
You probably have other favorite lighter reds. Experience. If you don’t like chilled red, leave it alone and in this season of triple-digit days, it’ll warm up soon enough to enjoy in your air-conditioned abode.
► Chilled reds should be between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
► Cool the bottle to the temperature of your refrigerator, then take it out one hour before serving.
► Conversely, put the bottle in the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before serving.
► Chill in a bucket of ice and water — ice alone is too slow. Adding salt to the water speeds things up even more.
If you’re not ready to warm up fresh reds, you can always fall back on fresh rosés and light, bright whites. There’s no reason to avoid wine just because cows produce evaporated milk and hot water comes out of your two taps.
Last round: It was so hot that the farmers gave their chickens ice cream so that they wouldn’t lay soft-boiled eggs. Wine time.