Even devout red wine drinkers shun their favorite labels when summer heat sets in. Truthfully, there’s no need. There are plenty of red wine options that possess characteristics that red wine drinkers love, without mouth–puckering tannins.
Keep in mind too that “room temperature” does not mean the number at which we set our thermostat. That phrase was defined when there was no central heating. Room temperature for our purposes oughta be — hold on — 55 degrees.
That’s right red drinkers: Chill your wine for summer. In fact, lower alcohol reds (14.5 percent or less) can be chilled into the high 40s without dramatically altering the wine.
Here are three I’ve thrown in the ’fridge lately with good results.
Yard Dog Red is a blend of 46 percent Petite Verdot, 30 percent Merlot and 24 percent Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Aussie vineyards in the traditional grape rowing areas of Mclaren Vale, Fleurieu and Adelaide Hills. It’s true, down under, fruit driven wine that is a luscious array of dark berry fruits, hints of lavender and dried spice. A hint of cedar tickles your nose, and then your palate will explore flavors of blackberry, dark chocolate and curry spice; there is some strawberry and leather in the mid–palate. A pretty good berry and spice finish. About $15.
Cardinal Zin is a longtime label that's back in its current release with a new blend, a new wine maker, Georgetta Dane, and a much better presence than in the years immediately following sale of the label by founder and wine making legend Randall Grahm. The Zinfandel in this blend (80 percent Zin, 10 percent Mourvedre, 8 percent Carignane, 2 percent Petite Sirah) comes from old vines that produce as little as one ton of fruit per acre. That kind of yield results in intense fruit — blackberry, dark cherry and spice are the predominate flavors. It’s a rock star burger wine that sells for around $10.
Fans of Old World wines will rant to taste Tres Picos, a 100 percent Garnacha from Spain, that scored an impressive 92 points from wine critic Robert Parker with its 2009 release. Garnacha is a versatile grape, allowing wine makers a wide berth as they explore its expressions. This one, from Bodegas Borsao, is built on a strong foundation of dark fruits that remind me of Syrah. Give this wine breathing room though: The red fruit notes of classic Garnacha emerge with time. A great value at around $15.