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Pinot Noir - The Perfect Summer Red

Pinot Noir - The Perfect Summer Red

Summer is finally here, which means the season of long lunches, celebratory drinks and beachside fun is ahead of us.
In the later months of summer, when you just can’t bring yourself to consume any more Riesling or Rosé, are there any other summer wine options you can turn to?

17 Feb 2022

Australian wine writer and reviewer Ralph Kyte-Powell says that some varieties, particularly those grown in cool climate regions such as Pinot Noir, are ideal for warm climate drinking.

“Some red grape varieties lend themselves to the idea of summer drinking more than others,” he writes for

“Pinot Noir provides the sort of throttled-back red that suits summer situations, and Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon need not deliver sledgehammer blows if they come from cooler regions. Look to southern Victoria, the New South Wales highlands, Tasmania, South Australian high country, and WA’s far south for intense, satisfying red wines that won’t weigh you down.”

Powell also recommends looking at the alcohol content of red wines before thinking about cracking their caps in summer.

“A good clue to the type of red to look for is the alcohol content written on the label. Taking 14 percent alcohol as top strength is a good idea. It may not seem like much, but a 14 percent red is a lot less aggressive-tasting than one that comes in at 15 percent,” he writes. “Drop the figure to 13 percent and your red becomes fresher still. These wines still carry intensity and they are decidedly food-friendly, even with the big, charry meats coming off the barbecue.”

But if that still doesn’t sound refreshing enough, the good people at Decanter recommend chilling red wine in summer for the perfect alternative to the never-ending line-up of “crisp, fresh whites”.

Quoting Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, Decanter’s Ellie Douglas reports that chilling wine is common in the Mediterranean, it’s also a great way to make the most of “cheaper/simpler” red wines.

“Evans recommends putting a wine in the fridge for half an hour, which will particularly tone down the sensation of soupy warmth in a relatively high alcohol red,” Ellie Douglas writes. “Ideally, chilled red wines are served at a temperature around 13 – 16°C (55 – 60°F).”

But chilling your red wines in summer isn’t just practical, according to Kristin Tice Studeman, at US Vogue, it’s also fashionable! 

“There often comes a point in the summer when you just can’t drink any more Rosé,” she says. “A crisp white wine, like Sancerre, is always an excellent option. Or Vinho Verde also makes for easy drinking. This summer, however, it’s all about reaching for a nice glass of chilled red wine. Yes, red wine.”

While she admits that not all red wines should be served cold, particularly Malbecs and Cabernet, there are several varietals that are perfect for chilling in summer.

“Some red varietals, which are typically low-alcohol and lighter in colour, are an excellent answer to the perfect wine for an afternoon barbecue on a hot summer day,” she said.

“These light reds pair particularly nicely with meats, like lamb, or charred seafood dishes. Or, no pairing needed – they stand up quite nicely on their own. Look for something like Lambrusco, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or a Fleurie, and drink it around 53 degrees F (give or take).”

So Pinotphiles can have their Pinot Noir and drink it too, all year ‘round – now that’s something to celebrate!