Summer in the south can be a difficult time for the red wine lover. As the heat takes hold, nobody seems to be serving a hearty daube washed down with a sturdy red Rhone.
Here are a half-dozen decent reds that – horror of horrors to the purist – can benefit from a spell in the fridge and go perfectly with the cuisine of the Mediterranean. These light, young vins rouges will even appeal to those who usually avoid red wines on the grounds of their heaviness.
This is France, so of course there is a correct way to serve a cool red wine. Proceed as follows:
Put the unopened bottle in the veg compartment at the bottom of the fridge for one-and-a half hours. Decant the wine and put it back in the fridge for another hour. Take the decanter out of the fridge, remove the stopper and leave the wine to rest for 15 minutes before serving. The wine thermometer should read 14°C.
Or get real and do what I do which is to shove the bottle in the freezer for a bit.
The Loire reds are perfect for this kind of treatment, so go for:
Sancerre Rouge. We all know the charm and attack of the white, but its dark brother is the best red I know for serving cool. Leclerc Rocheville caviste Michel Roulcois recommends René Carroi 2010 Sancerre (€10.15).
If, like me, you find spending more than €10 on a bottle of wine adversely affects the taste, then I suggest good quality from a lesser-known appellation: Menetou-Salon 2011, also from M Carroi, at €8.30.
The wines of Anjou were previously only known to me via the curry houses of North London, where for some reason the flaccid pink was always available. The reds served chilled are a revelation, but don’t go for rock-bottom cheap. Domaine Chupin 2010 at €5.80 is a delightful partner for a summer barbecue.
The same caveat on qualité-prix goes for Saint-Nicholas-de-Bourgueil, which in its most basic form (as sold by the lorry-load to cross-Channel booze-cruisers) can make Sarson’s vinegar taste like Château Lafite. Try Les Troglodytes 2011 at €5.40, but attention! Just because a red wine has a light taste doesn’t mean it’s low in alcohol content. Drink too much of this and you won’t be able to pronounce the name when Plod pulls you over and asks what you’ve been drinking.
And then there’s the Beaujolais – but the good stuff only. Domaine des Roches Anciennes 2011 is a beautiful Côte-de-Brouilly, €7.30.
Wines of the far south, the Midi, don’t usually benefit from the chill option. If you get a Côtes de Provence offered to you at single-digit temperature it will most likely be using the coolness to mask a fault in the wine. However, Costières de Nimes Saint-Bénézet 2010 (€5.30) takes the treatment very nicely.