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The 6 Best Red Wines for Summer

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Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Photo by Randy Peterson.

Drinking a glass of red Bordeaux in the thick of the summer may seem a tad bit counterintuitive. After all, a mouthful of brawny tannins and inky, densely concentrated fruit doesn’t exactly spell refreshing. When the weather starts inching towards 100 degrees, what you’re more likely to crave is something brisk and thirst-quenching like a glass of bone-dry Provencal rosé or a crisp Muscadet from the Loire Valley.

What if you’re a die-hard red wine drinker, you ask? Lucky for you, the wine market is teeming with an intriguing subset of red wines that fare wonderfully during the summer months, particularly when served with a slight chill.

Choose a red wine that falls within any of the following three categories and you’ll be good to go until the summer heat begins to vanish into fall.

Light-Bodied Red Wines

Wines made from thin-skinned red grapes tend to produce light-bodied and slightly translucent wines that show beautifully when chilled. These wines are perfect for summertime quaffing, combining the freshness of whites and rosés with juicy red berry flavors.

Light-bodied reds to check out:

Schiava from Alto Adige, Italy

Poulsard from Jura, France 

Low-Tannin Red Wines

Thin-skinned red grapes also tend to yield wines that are low in tannins since a large percentage of a wine’s tannins originate in the grapes’ skins. The thicker and darker the grape skins, the more inky and tannic the wine, and vice versa.

Low-tannin reds to check out:

Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France, the Sonoma Coast in California or Central Otago, New Zealand

Gamay from Beaujolais, France

Unoaked Red Wines

Oak aging can often bring a textural richness or heaviness to a wine, so when choosing a red wine to sip in the heat, opt for a straightforward, unoaked wine that features vibrant fresh fruit.

Unoaked reds to check out:

Mencia from Galicia, Spain

Frappato from Sicily, Italy

Editor’s Note: Red wine drinkers: what reds are you reaching for this summer? Share and compare in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out The 6 Best Whites Wines for Summer

Etty Lewensztain is the owner of Plonk Wine Merchants, an online shop focused on small-production, artisanal and altogether great cheap wine. The food- and wine- obsessed Los Angeles native cut her teeth in the wine biz running a marketing campaign to promote Chilean wine in the United States, and is certified by the esteemed Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the American Sommelier Association. Plonk Wine Merchants specializes in hidden gems from around the globe and every bottle in the store is priced below $30. Follow Plonk Wine Merchants on Twitter @ PlonkOnline.