Best Red Wines for Summer

When the temperatures soar and you’re a red wine drinker, rest assured there are styles out there to please your palate. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot tend to be too heavy/tannic to be pleasurable when the weather temps are 80+ degrees. Here’s a list of some enjoyable red vinos to have you going back for another glass.

Beaujolais
If you aren’t drinking Beaujolais, you are missing out on some of the prettiest and easy drinking red wines from France, that still offer a lot of complexity. Beaujolais Rouge is produced from the Gamay grape and it’s not meant for only drinking in November. Beaujolais wines are very fruity and generally have lower tannins than most red wines, which make them a fun summery sipper. Look for the region of Morgon and Régnié if you do want more tannin and grip.

Pinot Noir
Who doesn’t love a pinot? I don’t think a lot of explanation is needed here, but Pinots from Burgundy, Alsace, and Oregon are going to be way more summery than a lot of the bigger styles from California. Don’t overlook South Africa, they are making some lovely Pinots, and even the Italians are growing it in the northern regions, known as Pinot Nero.

Dolcetto
Don’t be intimidated by the name of this grape from Piedmont, Italy. It’s not sweet, however one of the fruitiest reds with practically zero tannins. Put a slight chill on this wine and enjoy with your summery fare, especially cured meats and cheeses. Perhaps a watermelon salad with prosciutto, arugula, fresh mozzarella and aged balsamic? Yes please!

Grenache
Delicious, fruity, and wonderfully aromatic, Grenache envelopes a feeling of driving through the Mediterranean soaking in the bountiful garigue aromas. Grenache is widely planted throughout the world, but is best expressed in the south of France and numerous regions across Spain, as well as in Sardinia. Note that in Spain it is called Garnacha and in Italy it is known as Cannonau.

Frappato 
Frappa what? Ok maybe you’ve never heard of the Frappato grape, but it’s high time you should! This light bodied wine is mostly grown in Sicily and as you know, it gets particularly hot in the summer there. Pour a glass of Frappato with a slight chill to it and you’ll be amazed by the dark color and intense, yet very fresh grapey aromas. This wine will pair with all sorts of cuisines and can handle some spice.

Nerello Mascalese 
Wine Expressions talks a lot about this grape and rightfully so because it’s so darn tasty. It’s mostly planted in Sicily and along the slopes of Mt. Etna and produces a light bodied wine reminiscent of Pinot Noir, but with the spice of a Sicilian. You can find it blended with Frappato at times for an exciting wine. Making some grilled sausages? Pair it up perfectly with a bottle of Nerello!

Schiava
Yes, another Italian grape! Do you know there’s over 2,000 grape varieties grown throughout Italy? This is the reason why they offer so much diversity in styles. Schiava is a wonderful alternative to Pinot Noir; it is a light bodied and aromatic wine with wonderful acidity. It is grown in the Alto Adige region, however they also grow it in Germany and it is known there as Trollinger.

Not to be left out of the list are some of the blends out of Portugal. They can vary on the spectrum of tannin levels, but the wines from Alentejo produced from the Trincadeira grape tend to be lighter and with really bright red fruit characteristics. As always, talk to your local wine shop clerk for their suggestions. Cheers!

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