This time of year, the mid-day sun is warm but there’s still a chill around the edge of the evening by the time the sun goes down. This is what we call shoulder season—the in-between time when temperatures fluctuate significantly throughout the day. We’re not quite in the midst of gin and tonic time, but it also doesn’t quite feel right to be cozying up to the fire with a glass of red wine. Instead, my shoulder season beverage of choice is a chilled red wine, perfect for bridging the gap.
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You might be thinking that I’m surely confused, that good manners dictate white wines are served chilled and reds at room temperature. And if that’s the case, congratulations—you’re about to be introduced to something excellent. Chilled red wine feels like a new take on an old classic, and can totally change the experience of a familiar favorite wine.
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Pinot noir and gamay-based wines are some of the most commonly chilled, as well as wines from the Beaujolais region of France, where wines are typically juicy and fresh. Chilling will accentuate tannins (the quality in wine that can make your mouth feel dry and sand paper-y), as well as acid, so you want to pick a bottle with relatively low tannins and an appealing amount of acidity.
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Ideally, you want a young, lighter-bodied red. Now is not the time for an older bottle. Instead, look for fresher wines—if they’re bottled in clear glass rather than the regular dark green, that’s a good indication that the maker doesn’t intend for them to be aged. To chill, simply place the wine in your refrigerator for an hour or two before drinking. You don’t want a deep, icy chill, just enough cold that it hits your palate with a light cooling sensation. For an extra fun twist, try buying two bottles of the same wine and tasting them at different temperatures. You’ll be amazed at the difference a few degrees makes.
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