Jul 15th 2019

Bucket List Summer Reds are the Coolest

Not that bucket list. We’re talking about the list of red wines we prefer to drink only after they've had a good long sit in an ice bucket - enough to bring the temperature down to something distinctly chilly.

If you know something of the pleasures of young, light-bodied red wines sipped cool, it's likely you acquired it somewhere outside the U.S. Here, the sub room temperature red is either unknown or considered distinctly. But drop into any family-owned, working-class European café during the hot months and chances are your red wine will come in a bottle, pitcher, or carafe beaded with condensation, the wine inside held at approximately the temperature of well water (55 degrees or thereabouts)

If the notion that some red wines are improved by a little time in the ice bucket is still a foreign one on these shores, blame it on restaurant wine programs that remain strangely loyal to a system that seems to get nothing right: whites (straight from a fridge) always too cold; reds (at room temp) ever unpalatably warm. And while that savagely frigid sauvignon blanc will eventually come ’round given time and a little help from a pair of warm palms,  a wine served 15 or even 20 degrees degrees above what it should hasn’t got a chance of returning to drinking condition.

How do you know when a little ice time is called for?  As a rule of thumb, all lighter-bodied, low tannin reds perk up after a cool down.  A little experimentation will help you get the hang of it. Ice buckets really aren’t convenient for most of us - but an hour on the fridge door or 15 minutes in the freezer (if you’re in hurry up mode) should do it.

To help you get on with it, here’s a peek at our very own wine corner bucket list. You’ll notice it doesn’t include bungee jumping...

  • 2017 Ca’ La Bionda, Valpolicella Classico  A gem of a summer sip with lovely, bright red cherry fruit and a lively feel.  $18.95
  • 2018 Domaine Jean Vullien, Cru Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte  Alpine red that’s all freshness and airy verve. $16.95
  • 2017 Famille Vaillant Vin de France “Breton”  Natural cabernet franc with appealingly crunchy fruit and (the occasional) hint of spritz.  Just the coolest. No SO2. $21.95
  • 2016 Domaine des Huards, Cour-Cheverny “Envol” Pinot noir and Gamay blend, from vineyards at the confluence of the Loire and the Delicious.
  • 2018 Chermette Beaujolais “Les Griottes” Beaujolais as it was made to be: fresh, juicy, delightfully uncomplicated and refreshing.  $17.95