When the sun beats down out of a clear blue sky, and the garden starts to frazzle; when the designer shades are donned and inadvisably exposed skin is allowed to soak up the ultra-violet; the vinously inclined have hitherto been apt to reach for crisp white wines and the palest of pale rosés of course, all nicely chilled, leaving any red wine undisturbed in the wine-rack until the Autumn.  But not anymore.  The somewhat continental habit of serving up chilled red wine in the Summer is becoming popular this side of the Channel and with good reason – it’s pretty darned well refreshing, maybe surprisingly so.

Lambrusco Monte delle Vigne (£12.95 per bottle, £11.95 in a case) – Browse Here

Starting with the obvious choice, or maybe a less obvious choice given its history, but you wouldn’t not chill a Lambrusco.  This is proper Lambrusco from a small producer in Parma and is joyous frothy drinking with Italianate suppers or simple red meat dishes.

“A world apart from the mean and pallid bottom-shelf supermarket fizz with which it unfortunately shares a name, this authenthic Italian red fizz is a joyful mouthful of fresh foaming blackberry and black cherry juice, tempered with lightly grippy tannins and a touch of balsamic sweetness that works so well with Italian antipasti.”

“Off dry and lively. Easy. Honest. Bring on the salami!”
Jancis Robinson MW

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Beaujolais Villages 2018 Domaine Rochette (£13.95 per bottle, £12.50 in a case) – Browse Here

The text-book advice for chillable red wines is to go for lighter reds, and the example cited is usually Beaujolais.  We have a few wines from Domaine Rochette and all will stand a little time in the fridge, but it’s best for the uninitiated to start with the ‘basic’ Villages and work up from there.

“Very strawberry, juicy, plump nose. Ripe and quite sweet and a deliciously early-summer red-berry palate into a linear, dry, slightly dusty-tannin finish with a pinch of chalk. Delicious now, will be just as good in a few years.
Tamlyn Currin,

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Laderas de Leonila 2017 Bierzo Mencia Màquina y Tabla (£16.95 per bottle, £14.95 in a case) – Browse Here 

Going a little off-piste, maybe, we have the crisp assertive Mencia from funky organic producers Màquina y Tabla in northern Spain.  This example has a little more stuffing than some Galician Mencias with crunchy fruit and a good solid backbone, thus rendering it (even after a spell on ice) perfectly capable of dealing with really quite meaty dinners, BBQ-ed offerings, or a nice roast dinner served up in the garden.

“Charles Lea has found an interesting winemaker in Maquina y Tabla. Produced in northwestern Spain from the local mencia grape, this has generous fruity aromatics, plus soft tannins, so it can be chilled further than most.”
Will Lyons, The Sunday Times

“From far north-western Spain in Bierzo up near Galicia, a joyous, vivid version of the local star red grape mencía that is concentrated and full of pure black cherries with a nip of plum-skin tang for pairing with red meat or dark game birds.”
David Williams, The Observer

Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) 2015 Weingut Braunewell (£15.75 per bottle, £13.75 in a case) – Browse Here

Of course, if we’re looking for lighter red wines to chill a little (or a lot; if you over-chill your red, all you have to do it chat a while and wait for your wine to warm back up to optimum drinking temperature) there is a world of Pinot Noir waiting for a space in the ice bucket.  For charm, bright crunchy chillable fruit and talking-point interestingness, you can’t go wrong with German Pinot Noir – they really are quite the thing at the moment.  The Braunewell is a pretty and instantly lovable red with nice open easy fruit and a refreshing finish that will happily accompany a light supper, some cheese and crusty bread, or nothing more filling than idle conversation.

“Fresh and floral and lively. Pure varietal expression without any excesses that is friendly and fun. GV”
Jancis Robinson MW

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Le Petit Roy 19ème Jean Royer (£15.95 per bottle, £13.95 in a case) – Browse Here

Adherents to LEA  & SANDEMAN recommendations will have, no doubt, encountered Jean Royer’s cheeky Rhôney/Châteauneuf-du-Papey Vin de France before. From an assorted collection of vines – some in Châteauneuf, some ‘only’ in the Côtes-du-Rhône – Jean Royer crafts this ripe and immediate, peppery classic southern Rhône red.  Not, you might have thought, an ideal candidate for a spell in the fridge.  But think again.  Firstly, there is plenty of ripe plump fruit that will shine through the chill; there is spice and structure that adds a refreshing edge to a chilled red; and the lower temperature tends to ameliorate the weight of the alcohol.

The avant garde amongst us may find a short spell in the fridge renders many a Rhône red apt for Summer drinking – from the smoother charms of northern Rhône Syrah (try either or both of our stunning Saint Josephs) to the bolder classic Châteauneuf-du-Papes of the south.

Zinfandel Soucie Vineyard 2015 m2 wines (£25.95 per bottle, £23.50 in a case) – Browse Here

Taking the chilling big reds to a bit of an extreme, the bold rich fruits associated with Californian Zinfandel will stand a bit of chilling and, once again, the assertive heft of the alcohol is tempered by the chill.  I think we are talking about serving the wine assertively not warm rather than out and out chilled here.

Layne Montgomery works 3 acres of old gnarly Zinfandel bush vines on the coolest, most eastern flank of the Lodi wine region. The vines here are ungrafted and untrained and have been producing top quality Zinfandel since they were planted over hundred years ago in 1916. This is a superb example of Californian Zinfandel – and shows the best of what can be done here with ancient vines and beautifully intense fruit. This is quite full on, a lovely intense, ripe dark fruit gives a plush, flesh to the middle and then the pepper and a lovely undergrowthy spice kicks in and tightens things up a bit. Only 25% of this spends time in new American Oak, which is all that it needs to maintain that bright, broad dark fruit character but stops well short of being too plump – a real gem that pulls no punches.

All these chillable red wines are available in-store at any LEA & SANDEMAN shop, where more advice about which reds to pop in the fridge will be freely given, or on-line.  The case price applies to a mixed or un-mixed dozen bottles of wine.

Browse our full list of Red wines to chill this summer on our website:

Gosset Champagnes