The vast majority of imbibers allocate their wine drinking to winter. This statement isn’t just an assumption, it’s true. Over 90% of search traffic around the topic of wine (in the Northern Hemisphere) happens from November to January. So, if you’re researching wine any other time of year, consider yourself in the top 90th percentile of people interested in wine.
Now that we’ve confirmed you’re a real wine enthusiast, let’s talk about which red wines are fun to drink during the summer!
Qualities of Summer Red Wines
Truthfully, you can drink whatever wine you want, out of whatever vessel you desire. That said, some wines have certain qualities that work well with hot weather. Here are the qualities we looked for to come up with this list:
Black cherry flavors are enveloped with peppery-licorice and dried herbs in this zesty, low tannin red. This wine is perfect for those of us who aren’t fans of fruit-forward, jammy reds. Serve it slightly chilled as you dine al fresco on a summer evening. Barbera is a very classy food wine.
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The aromas of violets, blueberries, and loamy potting soil will make you think you’re in a garden while you sip a decent Beaujolais. The best wines are definitely those from the 10 Beaujolais Crus, which surprisingly, can still be picked up for around $20 a bottle.
This Austrian red wine delight may just skim the top of the low alcohol rule, and its smoky-sweet, peppery, black fruit flavors are ideal for barbecues – or camping! You can also find this gem from Hungary (rare in the US) called Kekfrankos for around $15–17 a bottle.
Cinsault tastes and smells like someone threw a bunch of fresh red berries in a blender and… pbrrrrrr! This wine is a mouthful of lip-smacking acidity with pretty floral, rose stem-like aromas that counterbalance its boisterous red fruit flavors. This is definitely a prime “I’m on a boat” red wine.
This is the fruit-forward masterpiece from Sicily that no one ever talks about. It tastes like raspberries and candied oranges wrapped up in soft leather and its lower tannins make for easy drinking… almost too easy! Frappato truly is the perfect glamping wine.
Secco means “dry” and Lambrusco Secco is the boozy equivalent to iced black coffee. You *could* technically drink it out of the bottle, but when poured into a glass, it exudes complex aromas of fresh blueberries, sour cherries, hibiscus, and rhubarb with a creamy, leesy, bubble finesse.
This is another Sicilian delight with lots of fruitiness, but it also has a gritty texture from the active volcano on which it grows (Mount Etna). This is a serious wine and those who know it, like John Szabo in Volcanic Wines, describe it as “full of wild strawberry, sour cherry, and currants, [with] plenty of savory herbal and tobacco notes.” Wow.
Pinot? No. Poulsard! This little thin-skinned grape from Arbois, France makes rustic, garnet colored wines, wafting flavors of mushrooms, raspberries, dragon fruit, and strawberries, all enshrouded with a funkiness that is best described as “distinctly French.” It’s a lovely light alcohol red, if you can just find one (they’re quite rare).
A fruit-forward masterpiece that smells somewhat like strawberries, rose petals and, get this, cotton candy. Schiava is another awesome Pinot Noir alternative from Northern Italy and deserves to go in your summer picnic basket.
The perfect Valpolicella “basic” (as in, not $100-dollar Amarone) tastes like chocolate and cherries got together and rolled around in bucket of oregano and cinnamon. It can be a little herbal on the finish, but if you’re camped out on a blanket in a park on a summer afternoon, it is truly splendid. Go for Valpolicella Ripasso (more chocolatey notes) if you’re on a fancy date.
No summer red wine list is complete without the addition of Zweigelt. This Austrian wine is a sweet and sour explosion of red berries that finish on a spicy note. These wines often have a touch of carbonation, which makes them one of the most quenching red wines out there. Zweigelt is the perfect wine to pair with a cycling adventure.
Leave a comment below if you know another summer red wine that deserves a mention!
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